Association of Diabetes Subgroups with Race/Ethnicity, Risk Factor Burden and Complications: The MASALA and MESA Studies

Michael P. Bancks, Alain G. Bertoni, Mercedes Carnethon, Haiying Chen, Mary Frances Cotch, Unjali P. Gujral, David Herrington, Alka M. Kanaya, Moyses Szklo, Dhananjay Vaidya, Namratha R. Kandula

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: There are known disparities in diabetes complications by race and ethnicity. Although diabetes subgroups may contribute to differential risk, little is known about how subgroups vary by race/ethnicity. Methods: Data were pooled from 1293 (46% female) participants of the Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America (MASALA) and the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) who had diabetes (determined by diabetes medication use, fasting glucose, and glycated hemoglobin [HbA1c]), including 217 South Asian, 240 non-Hispanic white, 125 Chinese, 387 African American, and 324 Hispanic patients. We applied k-means clustering using data for age at diabetes diagnosis, body mass index, HbA1c, and homeostatic model assessment measures of insulin resistance and beta cell function. We assessed whether diabetes subgroups were associated with race/ethnicity, concurrent cardiovascular disease risk factors, and incident diabetes complications. Results: Five diabetes subgroups were characterized by older age at diabetes onset (43%), severe hyperglycemia (26%), severe obesity (20%), younger age at onset (1%), and requiring insulin medication use (9%). The most common subgroup assignment was older onset for all race/ethnicities with the exception of South Asians where the severe hyperglycemia subgroup was most likely. Risk for renal complications and subclinical coronary disease differed by diabetes subgroup and, separately, race/ethnicity. Conclusions: Racial/ethnic differences were present across diabetes subgroups, and diabetes subgroups differed in risk for complications. Strategies to eliminate racial/ethnic disparities in complications may need to consider approaches targeted to diabetes subgroup.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E2106-E2115
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2021


  • diabetes complications
  • diabetes heterogeneity
  • diabetes subgroups
  • race/ethnicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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