Bone morphogenetic protein 9 (BMP-9) has been demonstrated to improve glucose homoeostasis in diabetic mice. However, no report has demonstrated the relationship of circulating BMP-9 levels with insulin resistance (IR) or Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in humans. The objective of the present study was to investigate the relationship between BMP-9 and IR in cross-sectional and interventional studies. Circulating BMP-9 levels were analysed by ELISA in 280 well-characterized individuals. Two-hour oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and euglycaemic–hyperinsulinaemic clamp (EHC) were performed in 20 healthy subjects. Acute IR was induced by lipid infusion for 4 h in 20 healthy volunteers. Real-time (RT)-PCR and Western blotting were used to assess mRNA and protein expression of BMP-9. The effect of a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist (PEX168) on circulating BMP-9 was investigated in a 24-week treatment trial. Circulating BMP-9 levels were significantly higher in healthy subjects than in newly diagnosed patients with T2DM. Circulating BMP-9 negatively correlated with HbA1c, fasting blood glucose (FBG), OGTT, the area under the curve for glucose (AUCglucose) and homoeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR). Multivariate regression analyses showed that BMP-9 levels were independently associated with non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) and AUCglucose. Both hyperinsulinaemia and lipid infusion decreased circulating BMP-9 levels. BMP-9 mRNA and protein expressions were significantly decreased in muscle and adipose tissues of T2DM patients. In the placebo treated group, BMP-9 levels continued to decline over time, whereas in the PEX 168 treated groups BMP-9 levels remained stable. Our data suggest that BMP-9 is likely to play an important role in IR in humans.

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