New study announced linking diabetes with latent TB infection

Coinciding with World Obesity Day the opening press conference of The Union World Conference highlighted a study linking diabetes with latent tuberculosis (TB) infection. This study is the first population-based study to investigate whether there is a relationship between TB infection and diabetes.

A few studies have shown that diabetics with poor glycemic control (diabetic control) are at higher risk of developing TB. However, comparatively few studies have investigated the relationship between diabetes and tuberculosis infection. The study that will be presented this week during the World Conference is the first to assess the relationship between glycemic, or diabetic, control and TB infection.

José Luis Castro, Executive Director of The Union, chairing the press conference spoke of how this study is part of the innovative science this week, saying: “This year´s conference is living proof that renewed scientific progress has taken off which is encouraging but, at the same time, that needs to be matched by a political commitment from governments to invest in research and development so that research momentum is maintained.”

Speaking at the press conference, Leonardo Martinez of Stanford University who carried out the study, reported that it was a population-based study of some 4000 individuals in the United States tested for TB infection and diabetes. The study shows that diabetics had higher rates of TB infection than people who did not have diabetes. It also showed that individuals with severe diabetes were more likely to have TB infection.  

Leonardo Martinez said “In general there needs to be more integration between TB and diabetes control. They have often worked in silos, but unless they coordinate we will not be able to effectively combat them.”

The study concludes that poorly controlled diabetes presents a higher risk for latent TB and that this may be a group to target for latent TB testing and consideration of latent TB therapy.  

Providing a local context for these concerns was Dr Pablo Kuri Morales, Undersecretary of Diseases, Prevention and Health Policy in the Mexican Ministry of Health. He said that “Twenty-four percent of TB cases in Mexico are linked to diabetes.” Urging action, he continued “Both of these illnesses are linked to social causes. We need to have clear information exchange between these two areas. Sharing information and approaching these social elements is crucial.”

The full results of this study will be presented as an abstract: Promising results for an investigation of Glycemic control and prevalence of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI): population ­based study using HbA1c, fasting plasma glucose and 2­hour plasma glucose (OA-124-12), In Jalisco Hall, on Thursday, 12 October 16:00-17.30.