1. Biochemistry and Chemical Biology
  2. Computational and Systems Biology
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Addressing shortfalls of laboratory HbA1c using a model that incorporates red cell lifespan

  1. Yongjin Xu
  2. Richard M Bergenstal
  3. Timothy C Dunn
  4. Ramzi A Ajjan  Is a corresponding author
  1. Abbott Diabetes Care, United States
  2. International Diabetes Center, Park Nicollet, HealthPartners, United States
  3. Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine, University of Leeds, United Kingdom
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Cite this article as: eLife 2021;10:e69456 doi: 10.7554/eLife.69456

Abstract

Laboratory HbA1c does not always predict diabetes complications and our aim was to establish a glycaemic measure that better reflects intracellular glucose exposure in organs susceptible to complications. Six months of continuous glucose monitoring data and concurrent laboratory HbA1c were evaluated from 51 type 1 diabetes (T1D) and 80 type 2 diabetes (T2D) patients. Red blood cell (RBC) lifespan was estimated using a kinetic model of glucose and HbA1c, allowing the calculation of person-specific adjusted HbA1c (aHbA1c). Median (IQR) RBC lifespan was 100 (86–102) and 100 (83–101) days in T1D and T2D, respectively. The median (IQR) absolute difference between aHbA1c and laboratory HbA1c was 3.9 (3.0–14.3) mmol/mol [0.4 (0.3–1.3%)] in T1D and 5.3 (4.1–22.5) mmol/mol [0.5 (0.4–2.0%)] in T2D. aHbA1c and laboratory HbA1c showed clinically relevant differences. This suggests that the widely used measurement of HbA1c can underestimate or overestimate diabetes complication risks, which may have future clinical implications.

Introduction

High glucose exposure in specific organs (particularly eye, kidney, and nerve) is a critical factor for the development of diabetes complications (Marcovecchio, 2017; Giacco and Brownlee, 2010). Laboratory HbA1c is routinely used to assess glycaemic control, but studies report a disconnect between this glycaemic marker and diabetes complications in some individuals (Cohen et al., 2003; Bonora and Tuomilehto, 2011). The exact mechanisms for this are not always clear but, at least in some cases, likely related to inaccurate estimation of intracellular glucose exposure in the affected organs.

While raised intracellular glucose is responsible for diabetes complications (Giacco and Brownlee, 2010; Brownlee, 2005), extracellular hyperglycaemia selectively damages cells with limited ability to adjust cross-membrane glucose transport effectively (Brownlee, 2005). HbA1c has been used as a biomarker for diabetes-related intracellular hyperglycaemia for two main reasons. First, the glycation reaction occurs within red blood cells (RBCs) and therefore HbA1c is modulated by intracellular glucose level. Second, RBCs do not have the capacity to adjust glucose transporter GLUT1 levels and thus are unable to modify glucose uptake, behaving similarly to cells that are selectively damaged by extracellular hyperglycaemia (Brownlee, 2005). Therefore, under conditions of fixed RBC lifespan and glucose uptake, HbA1c mirrors intracellular glucose exposure in organs affected by diabetes complications. However, given the inter-individual variability in both glucose uptake and RBC lifespan (Cohen et al., 2008; Khera et al., 2008), laboratory HbA1c may not always reflect intracellular RBC glucose exposure. While variation in RBC glucose uptake is likely relevant to the risk of diabetes complications in susceptible organs, variation in red cell lifespan can affect haemoglobin glycation and HbA1c values, in turn compromising the accuracy of this glycaemic marker in predicting risk of complications. This explains the inability to clinically rely on laboratory HbA1c in those with haematological disorders characterised by abnormal RBC turnover (American Diabetes Association, 2019) and represents a possible explanation for the apparent ‘disconnect’ between laboratory HbA1c and development of complications in some individuals with diabetes (Figure 1).

Individual red blood cell (RBC) lifespan can affect HbA1c and diabetes treatment.

In some individuals, laboratory HbA1c can be misleading and resulting in undertreatment, thus increasing the risk of complications, or overtreatment, predisposing to hypoglycaemia.

A kinetic model, which considers individual variations in both RBC turnover and glucose uptake, has been developed to explain the disconcordance of the glucose-HbA1c relationship on individual level (Xu et al., 2021). The current work aims to extend this model by providing a way to normalise against RBC lifespan variation when individual RBC lifespan becomes available. We propose a new clinical marker, which we term adjusted HbA1c (aHbA1c), by adjusting laboratory HbA1c for a standard RBC lifespan of 106 days (English and Lenters-Westra, 2018) (equivalent to RBC turnover rate of 0.94% per day). The new glyacemic marker, aHbA1c, is likely to be the most accurate marker of organ exposure to hyperglycaemia and risk of future diabetes-related complications.

Results

Of the 287 individuals in the original studies, 218 had predefined continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) coverage between at least two HbA1c measurements. Of these, 131 individuals had adequate continuous glucose data to estimate RBC lifespan and glucose uptake rate. The subject characteristics of this sub-cohort are presented in Table 1.

Table 1
Main characteristics of the cohort studied.
N131
Age [years; mean ± SD (range)]53.5 ± 13.7 (18, 77)
Gender, male [number (percentage)]86 (66%)
T1D [number (percentage)]T2D [number (percentage)]BMI [kg/m2; mean ± SD (range)]51 (39%)80 (61%)29.8 ± 5.9 (18.8, 54.1)
Duration of diabetes (years)17.7 ± 8.7 (2, 46)
Hypoglycaemic therapyMultiple daily injections of insulin
Data are presented as mean ± SD (min, max) or n (%)

Mean (median, IQR) RBC lifespan was 94 (100, 86–102) days in those with T1D and 92 (100, 83–101) in those with T2D (Figure 2). In this cohort, the mean, median, IQR of the absolute difference between aHbA1c and laboratory HbA1c were 11.0, 3.9, 3.0–14.3 mmol/mol (1.0, 0.4, 0.3–1.3%) for T1D, and marginally higher at 15.1, 5.3, 4.1–22.5 mmol/mol (1.4, 0.5, 0.4–2.0%) for T2D subjects. As illustrated in the figure, those with the shorter RBC lifespan of 80 days showed around 22 mmol/mol (2%) lower laboratory HbA1c than aHbA1c. This may lead to underestimating intracellular glucose exposure in susceptible organs, in turn increasing the risk of complications. In contrast, those with RBC lifespan of 130 days demonstrated higher laboratory HbA1c than aHbA1c, which can give the impression of inadequate glycaemic control, leading to therapy escalation and predisposition to hypoglycaemia.

Distribution of red blood cell (RBC) lifespan for type 1 (n = 51) and type 2 (n = 80) diabetes and adjustment to laboratory HbA1c by RBC lifespan.

The number (percentage) of individuals having HbA1c adjustments < 1 % (<11 mmol/mol), 1–2% (11–22 mmol/mol), 2–3% (22–33 mmol/mol), and >3% (>33 mmol/mol) were 90 (68%), 21 (16%), 12 (9%), and 8 (6%), respectively.

To further put these results into clinical context, two subjects with an identical laboratory HbA1c of 63 mmol/mol (7.9%) but different RBC lifespans of 89 and 107 days, would have RBC-lifespan-adjusted aHbA1c values of 78 mmol/mol (9.3%) and 62 mmol/mol (7.8%), respectively, indicating different future risk of diabetes complications. Another two individuals with different laboratory HbA1c of 60 mmol/mol (7.6%) and 75 mmol/mol (9.0%), and corresponding RBC lifespans of 89 and 107 days, would have identical aHbA1c value of 74 mmol/mol (8.9%). This would place them at similar risk of diabetes complications, despite the significantly different laboratory HbA1c values. Generally, in individuals with RBC lifespan of approximately 93–123 days, aHbA1c and laboratory HbA1c showed relatively small differences (<11 mmol/mol or 1% when laboratory HbA1c < 64 mmol/mol or 8%). In this cohort, 90 (69%) subjects were within RBC lifespan range of 93–123 days, while 39 (30%) subjects had RBC lifespan below 93 days and 2 (1.5%) subjects above 123 days.

Discussion

Variation in RBC lifespan and glucose uptake between individuals can lead to different laboratory HbA1c despite similar hyperglycaemic exposure in the organs affected by diabetes complications. In order to individualise care and assess the personal risk of hyperglycaemic complications, laboratory HbA1c levels should be adjusted to account for variability in RBC turnover through our proposed aHbA1c. Without this adjustment, there is a risk of overestimating glucose levels that may cause hypoglycaemia through the unnecessary escalation of diabetes therapies, or alternatively, underestimation that may lead to undertreatment and subsequent high risk of complications. In addition, there are implications for the diagnosis of prediabetes and diabetes, as there may be misclassifications if the diagnosis is based solely on laboratory HbA1c levels due to variable RBC lifespan across individuals.

RBC removal by senescence and erythrocyte apoptosis are complex processes, which can be affected by the presence of hyperglycaemia and known to vary both within and across individuals (Lang et al., 2012). In the meantime, potential differences in RBC glucose uptake (Khera et al., 2008) can also affect the relationship between blood glucose and HbA1c. Several mathematical models (Malka et al., 2016; Fabris et al., 2020) have been developed to estimate laboratory HbA1c from glucose levels or time in range, emphasising the importance of this area. Accurate estimation of ‘clinically relevant HbA1c’ will allow each person with diabetes to have an individualised glycaemic target that ensures adequate treatment, thus reducing the risk of complications while minimising hypoglycaemic risk.

A unique feature of our model (Xu et al., 2021) is the inclusion of individual-specific RBC lifespan and glycation rate in the calculations. A weakness of this model, however, is the absence of a direct measure of RBC lifespan, which remains an estimate based on a mathematical calculation. However, the ability of the model to reflect laboratory HbA1c, as we have previously shown, indicates a good level of accuracy at estimating RBC lifespan ( Xu et al., 2021a). In addition, the method is far simpler than complex methods for estimating RBC lifespan through labelling experiments that are not suited for routine clinical practice (Cohen et al., 2008). Future work may determine whether other measures, such as reticulocyte count or red cell distribution width (Brodksy, 2021; Kameyama et al., 2018; Kameyama et al., 2020), can further be added to the model to further improve the accuracy of estimating RBC lifespan and this remains an area for future research.

Since aHbA1c reflects intracellular glucose exposure in RBCs, it is difficult to directly compare with extracellular glucose-derived glycaemic markers such as average glucose or time in range. As an intracellular marker, aHbA1c should correlate with intracellular glucose levels, therefore providing a potentially accurate measure of glucose exposure of organs susceptible to diabetes complications. We summarise the advantages and drawbacks of different methods that measure average glucose control in Appendix 1—table 2.

Importantly, our study demonstrates that laboratory HbA1c does not necessarily reflect intracellular glucose exposure of organs prone to diabetes complications. However, future work is required to show that adjusted A1c is a better predictor of diabetes complications than laboratory HbA1c. Moreover, it is unclear whether the use of aHbA1c reduces the risk of hypoglycaemic complications as compared to reliance on laboratory HbA1c, and these remain areas for future research.

In conclusion, quantitative aHbA1c, derived from laboratory HbA1c and CGM readings, has the potential to more accurately assess glycaemic exposure of different organs, providing a safer and more effective glycaemic guide for the management of individuals with diabetes. Future testing in larger populations and different ethnic groups is required to further increase confidence in the model. This to be followed by large prospective clinical studies to test the relationship between aHbA1c and future microvascular/macrovascular diabetes complications as well as reducing the risk of hypoglycaemic exposure through avoidance of unnecessary therapy escalation.

Materials and methods

CGM and laboratory HbA1c data from 139 type 1 (T1D) and 148 type 2 diabetes (T2D) patients, enrolled in two previous European clinical studies (Bolinder et al., 2016; Haak et al., 2017), were evaluated to calculate aHbA1c as detailed below. These studies were designed to evaluate the benefits of CGM in those with T1D and those with T2D using multiple daily injections of insulin. Both studies were conducted after appropriate ethical approval and participants gave written informed consent. A total of 6 months’ CGM data were collected using the sensor-based flash glucose monitoring system (FreeStyle Libre; Abbott Diabetes Care, Witney, UK), while HbA1c was measured by a central laboratory (ICON Laboratories, Dublin, Ireland) at 0, 3, and 6 months of the study. For T1D participants, the mean age was 44 years (range 18–70 years), 17 (33%) of whom were females. For T2D, the mean age was 59 years (range 33–77 years), 28 (35%) of whom were females.

Each subject had at least one data section consisting of two HbA1c measurements connected by CGM data. Since the kinetic parameters are more sensitive to the data sections with larger between-day glucose changes, the parameters were successfully estimated for those individuals with sufficient day-to-day glucose variability, as evidenced by the model fit of RBC life converging between 50 and 180 days. These individual RBC lifespans or turnover rates were calculated according to previous model (Xu et al., 2021) that considers both RBC turnover rate and glucose uptake. Briefly, the model aligns laboratory HbA1c and the contemporaneous CGM-derived estimate of HbA1c under optimal values for RBC turnover and glucose uptake of each individual. Since there is no simple clinical assay for RBC turnover and glucose uptake, these RBC parameters are estimated using a numerical method such that differences between laboratory HbA1c and CGM-derived estimate are minimized. While the parameter identification method can be performed by repeated permutations across all reasonably possible values for RBC lifespan and uptake, our approach uses a far more efficient and reliable numerical method, as previously described (Xu et al., 2021). Detailed model description and derivation are provided in Appendix 1. Deriving from the same model, we constructed aHbA1c (Equation 1) that adjusts laboratory HbA1c for individual RBC turnover variation for potential clinical use.

(1) aHbA1c=HbA1cHbA1c+kagerefkage1000-HbA1c

In an approximation, aHbA1c kagekageref HbA1c, where HbA1c is laboratory HbA1c, kage is individual RBC turnover rate (%/day), kageref is standard RBC turnover rate (0.94%/day). HbA1c and aHbA1c are in NGSP unit and decimal values should be used. For example, 8% HbA1c should be applied as 0.08. Equation 1 for IFCC unit is available in Appendix 1.

Under the assumption of individually constant RBC life, the relationship between RBC turnover rate (kage), RBC lifespan (LRBC) and mean RBC age (MARBC) can be inter-converted using the simple formula: 2*MARBC=LRBC=1kage . Therefore, 0.94%/day standard RBC turnover rate is equivalent to 106 days of RBC life and 53 days of mean RBC age. Of note, the adjustment is not linear, decreasing RBC lifespan corresponds to more pronounced aHbA1c adjustment than a seemingly comparable increase in RBC lifespan. All calculations in this study were done with Python/SciPy (Virtanen et al., 2020) software package.

Full derivation of the model is further provided in Appendix 1.

Appendix 1

Derivation of Equation (1): kinetic model review

The previously published kinetic model (Xu et al., 2021) for glucose and HbA1c relationship led to Equation (1), shown in the main text. We further describe here the derivation of the model for the convenience of the reader. We also cover how the model can be used to estimate personal kinetic parameters for RBC glucose uptake and RBC turnover rate.

Our model assumes: (1) first-order dependencies for concentrations of both haemoglobin in RBCs and intracellular glucose; (2) newly generated RBCs have a negligible amount of glycated haemoglobin; (3) RBCs have a fixed life, so that they are generated constantly and eliminated from circulation when they reach an age that is individual-specific.

The rate of change in glycated and non-glycated haemoglobin in RBCs can be modelled by differential equations:

(a1) dHbG/dt=kgGIHb-r*α*A1c
(a2) d[Hb]/dt=kgen/C-r*(1-α*A1c)-kgGIHb

[HbG] and [Hb] are the concentrations of glycated and non-glycated haemoglobin, respectively, while [GI] is intracellular glucose concentration. The kg is the rate constant of haemoglobin glycation reaction in unit of (concentration*time)–1, with a reported value of about 0.0019 dL/mg/day (Higgins and Bunn, 1981). C is the total haemoglobin concentration C = [Hb] + [HbG]. A1c is the fraction of glycated haemoglobin [HbG]/C, r is RBC removal rate in unit of concentration/time, α is a coefficient used to scale HbA1c to the fraction of glycated haemoglobin to be removed (has no units of measurement).

The glucose transporters on RBC membranes (GLUT1) follows Michaelis-Menten kinetic with a universal KM approximately 26 mM (Ladyzynski et al., 2011). Intracellular glucose can be modelled with d[GI]/dt=Vmax*[G]/(KM+[G] )-kc*[GI], where [G] is the extracellular glucose concentration and kc is the rate of glucose consumption within RBCs. The maximum rate Vmax should be proportional to the GLUT1 level on the membrane and we assume both kc and Vmax can vary between individuals. Since this process is fast, we use the equilibrium condition:

(a3) [G1]=Vmax[G]Kc(KM+[G])=VmaxKMkcg=kglyKgg=kglyKgKM[G]KM+[G]

where g=(KM*[G])/(KM+[G]) and kgly=kg*Vmax/(kc*KM).

By definition, HbA1c is the fraction of glycated haemoglobin found in RBCs:

A1c=[HbG]/C=(C[Hb])/C.

In steady state, dHb/dt=dHbG/dt=0, Equation (a1) becomes

Ckg/(αr)=[HbG]/([GI][Hb]).

Combining with Equation (a3):

(a4) C*kg*Vmaxα*r*KM*kc=HbGg*Hb

By combining all parameters associated with cross-membrane glucose transport and glycation from the right-hand side of Equation (a4), we define the composite glycation rate constant

kgly=kg*Vmax/(kc*KM), where kg and KM are universal constants for the non-enzymatic haemoglobin glycation reaction and glucose affinity to GLUT1, respectively. Therefore, kgly can vary between individuals depending on kc and Vmax.

We attribute the rest of the parameters to RBC turnover kage = α*r/C, which leads to the definition of the apparent glycation parameter K:

(a5) K=kgly/kage=[HbG]/(g*Hb)

Under a hypothetical steady state of constant glucose level, HbA1c should reach an equilibrium level, which is the ‘equilibrium HbA1c’ or EA. Since C=[HbG]+[Hb], Equation (a5) can be re-written to K=(C-[Hb])/(g*[Hb]). Applying the definition HbA1c = HbG/C = (C−[Hb])/C, we have:

(a6) EA=gK-1+ g

This relationship approximates the average glucose and HbA1c for an individual with a stable day-to-day glucose profile.

From Equation (a3): GI=VmaxKM*kcg=kglykgg, and substituting into Equation (a6) gives:

(a7) [GI]=kage*EAkg*(1- EA)

Imaging two individuals who have identical intracellular glucose level GIkage=GIkageref , one with kage and the other with reference kageref . The relationship of their equilibrium HbA1c values is:

kage*EAkagekg*(1- EAkage)=kageref*EAkagerefkg*(1- EAkageref)

Again, kg is the universal composite rate constant for glucose haemoglobin composite reaction. Simplifying this equation we have:

EAkageref=EAkageEAkage+kagerefkage(1-EAkage)

In a steady state, EAkage is the HbA1c under RBC turnover rate of kage . The EAkageref is the HbA1c under the same intracellular glucose level, when RBC turnover rate is a reference value of kageref . Therefore, if we were to compare intracellular glucose exposure, steady-state HbA1c should be adjusted to a reference RBC turnover rate, which lead to the aHbA1c in Equation (1) by replacing EAkageref with aHbA1c and EAkage with HbA1c:

(1) aHbA1C=HbA1CHbA1C+kagerefkage1-HbA1C=11+kagerefkage1HbA1c -1

To simplify the above, an approximation to Equation (1) is aHbA1C kagekageref HbA1c. Note that kagekageref=MRBCrefMRBC=LRBCrefLRBC , where MRBC is the mean RBC age and LRBC is the RBC lifespan.

The HbA1c and aHbA1c take NGSP unit in decimal form by default. For example, the decimal form of HbA1c of 8% is 0.08. The unit for kageref and kage should be %/day.

When IFCC unit (mmol/mol) is used for HbA1c and aHbA1c, Equation (1) becomes:

(2) aHbA1C=1092.91+kagerefkage1000.0915*HbA1c+2.15-1-23.5

Estimations of kgly and kage from glucose and HbA1c data and prospective validation: kinetic model review

Our previous publication (Xu et al., 2021) gave the following relationship by solving the differential Equation (a1):

(a8) A1ct=EA+(A1c0-EA)e-(kgly*g+kage)t

Equation (a8) is suitable for a short time interval. For a longer time period, a recursive form is required:

(a9) A1cz=EAz1-Dz+i=1z-1[EAi1-Dij=i+1zDj]+A1c0j=1zDj

Equation (a9) describes HbA1c change from time 0 to time z. A1c0 and A1cz are the starting and ending HbA1c values. The time period is split into z time intervals with lengths of ti (i = 1,2,3, …, z), where Di=e-kgly*gi+kageti and EAi=giK-1+ gi , and gi can be calculated from the average glucose (AG) in the time interval gi=(KM*AGi)/(KM+AGi ).

The value A1cz is equivalent to calculated HbA1c (cHbA1c) at the end of time interval tz. While shorter time intervals – such as 4–6 hr – are expected to produce better results, we have shown that a time interval of 24 hr has produced acceptable performance (Xu et al., 2021). Equation (a9) is central to our kinetic model. To estimate personal parameters kgly and kage, one or more data sections are needed, where a data section contains two HbA1c measurements, one at the start of the time period and one at the end, with frequent (i.e. every 15 min) glucose levels in-between. The optimised individual kgly and kage pair should best align the HbA1c and cHbA1c, minimising the preferred error function, such as mean difference or sum-squared difference.

Once an individual’s kgly and kage pair are available, Equation (a9) is used to project future HbA1c if provided frequent glucose measurements. Therefore, prospective model validation is possible when multiple data sections are available, such that one or more can be held out of the parameter estimation to be used for prospective evaluation. Appendix 1—table 1 summarises results (Xu et al., 2021; Xu et al., 2021a; Xu et al., 2021b) when all but the last data section is used to determine the individual kgly and kage pairs, and the held-out final data section is used for evaluation. The agreement between the last HbA1c and cHbA1c is compared to the agreement between the last HbA1c and the glucose management indicator (GMI) (Xu et al., 2021; Xu et al., 2021a; Xu et al., 2021b). These studies demonstrated the superior accuracy of the kinetic model compared to the existing GMI method.

Appendix 1—table 1
Summary of kinetic model validation studies.
StudyT1D SAP [22]DPV T1D [23]Replace/mpact [9]
CountryJapanGermanyEurope
Subject count (male)51 (14)352 (171)120 (79) [TID 54 (37), T2D 66 (42)]
Age median (range)42 (6–73)12.5 (3–19)52 (18–77)
HbA1c testCentral labPOC+ central labCentral lab
CGM deviceMedtronicAbbottAbbott
MethodcHbA1cGMI (14-day AG)cHbA1cGMI (14-day AG)cHbA1cGMI (14-day AG)
Abs. dev.% (mmol/mol)Mean0.11 (1.2)0.47 (5.1)0.32 (3.5)0.57 (6.2)0.31 (3.4)0.66 (7.2)
SD0.06 (0.7)0.46 (5.0)0.28 (3.0)0.55 (6.0)0.22 (2.4)0.46 (5.0)
Median0.10 (1.1)0.36 (3.9)0.26 (2.8)0.46 (5.0)0.27 (3.0)0.5 (5.5)
Average bias% (mmol/mol)0 (0)–0.3 (–3.3)0 (0)0.4 (4.4)0 (0)–0.6 (–6.6)
R20.910.650.790.520.880.63

Glycaemic marker comparisons

Given the importance of intracellular glucose level in diabetes management. We provide following table to compare the intracellular aspects of some frequently used glycaemic markers.

Appendix 1—table 2
Main characteristics of markers assessing average glycaemic control.
Intracellular (I) or extracellular (E) glucoseAffected by mean red blood cell (RBC) lifespanAdvantagesDisadvantages
CGM-derivedAverage glucoseENo
  • Can reflect both long- (weeks/months) and short-term (minutes, hours) glucose control

  • Extracellular measurements

  • Lack of large-scale longitudinal studies demonstrating a direct association with long-term complications

Time in range
Average fasting plasma glucoseENo
Glycated albuminENo
  • Mid-term (weeks) average glucose

HbA1cIYes
  • Long-term (months) intracellular average glucose exposure

  • Longitudinal studies demonstrating associations with long-term complications

  • Affected by variation in RBC lifespan

  • Lacks accuracy in the presence of other conditions (anaemias, renal failure, haemoglobin variants, etc.)

Adjusted HbA1cINo
  • Long-term intracellular average glucose

  • Exposure normalised for RBC lifespan, providing a personalised glycaemic marker

  • Requires RBC lifespan determination

  • Longitudinal studies linking with outcome are lacking

Intracellular glucoseINo
  • Reflects both long- and short-term intracellular glucose control

Data availability

Data file for figures have been provided.

References

  1. Book
    1. Brodksy RA
    (2021)
    Diagnosis of Hemolytic Anemia in Adults
    UpToDate.

Decision letter

  1. Rachel Perry
    Reviewing Editor; Yale, United States
  2. Nancy Carrasco
    Senior Editor; Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, United States
  3. Agnieszka Szadkowska
    Reviewer
  4. Masashi Kameyama
    Reviewer

In the interests of transparency, eLife publishes the most substantive revision requests and the accompanying author responses.

Acceptance summary:

This paper will be of interest to clinicians who provide care for persons with diabetes, educators who prepare these clinicians, as well as persons with diabetes who wish to be proactive participants in their own care. The calculation for an adjusted Hemoglobin A1c proposed by the authors can correct for individual red blood cell lifespan variations that can lead to misrepresentation of glycemic control. With the addition of a data-driven comparison to other means of assessing glycemic control, the adjusted HbA1c has the potential to improve care and subsequently decrease morbidity and mortality for persons with diabetes.

Decision letter after peer review:

Thank you for submitting your article "HbA1c and Red Blood Cell Lifespan: Addressing shortfalls of the laboratory measure" for consideration by eLife. Your article has been reviewed by 3 peer reviewers, and the evaluation has been overseen by a Reviewing Editor and Nancy Carrasco as the Senior Editor. The following individuals involved in review of your submission have agreed to reveal their identity: Agnieszka Szadkowska (Reviewer #2); Masashi Kameyama (Reviewer #3).

The reviewers have discussed their reviews with one another, and the Reviewing Editor has drafted this to help you prepare a revised submission.

Essential revisions:

1) A more complete description of the derivation of the model – more detail is required as to how the computations were done.

2) A comparison to other methods of assessing glycemic control (CGM, A1c). While assessment of how the authors' model predicts complications will not be required, a comparison (or at the very least, detailed discussion) of how it can compare to standard means of assessing glycemic control is necessary.Reviewer #1:

The strengths of this paper include that it builds on previous research and its sample size. However, the calculation for the individual RBC turnover rate, k age, is not included. The calculation for the adjusted HbA1c is too unwieldy for the clinician to use in practice where there is increased pressure to see many patients on a timely basis. If a "calculator" could be formulated allowing the clinician to plug in the relevant values and get the adjusted HbA1c, this could be widely used to improve patient care at the point of care which is the ultimate goal of this research.

The author's claims of a proposed adjusted HbA1c which is more accurate in predicting adverse outcomes due to diabetes is supported by the data.

There is a model to estimate RBC lifespan using reticulocyte count: Brodsky, R. A. Diagnosis of hemolytic anemia in the adult. In J. S. Timauer (Ed.) UpToDate, Retrieved February 17, 2020 from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/diagnosis-of-hemolytic-anemia-in-the-adult?search=hemolytic%20anemia&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=1.Reviewer #2:

Laboratory HbA1c values are routinely used to assess glycemic control, but differences in red blood cell lifespan can affect hemoglobin glycation and HbA1c values. The authors developed a formula for adjusted HbA1c to account for red blood cell lifespan, which would better represent hemoglobin glycation and thus could better estimate the risk of disease complications.

The authors based their formula for aHbA1c calculation on laboratory measurements of HbA1c and CGM data performed with FreeStyle Libre. When using CGM systems, we often see falsified results for the duration of hypoglycemia, especially at night, due to sensor compression. The authors did not address these technical problems that may affect the aHbA1c result.

Using CGM we now have simple parameters to assess metabolic control of diabetes on the basis of CGM: TIR, GMI, CV. What I miss is a comparative analysis between these parameters and aHbA1c to convince readers that aHbA1c will be a better parameter for long term assessment for risk of complications.

The authors achieved their goal, and the results support their conclusions.

The use of aHbA1c in daily practice can be difficult because usually the clinician wants a ready result, but for research purposes, especially in patients with shorter red blood cell lifespans, it could be useful.

It will be interesting to see if its usefulness in estimating the risk of complications will be greater than TIR or GMI with CV.

Some comments on the methods and results:

Methods:

1. The study is based on CGM performed with FreeStyle Libre. From experience, we know that patients often have false hypoglycemia at night due to compression of the sensor. Has this been taken into account in the analysis?

2. Currently we use TIR and GMI to assess metabolic control in CGM users. Since aHbA1c, a new parameter will require additional calculations from me as a clinician, does it have advantages over these parameters in assessing the risk of chronic complications. It may be worth doing additional analysis comparing aHbA1c with these parameters.

3. As this is proof of concept, the details of creating the equation should be described, probably in some supplement. In addition, the idea behind the mathematical formula might help explain the equation to the readers. Secondly, the equation presented here is not clear in terms of units, and additionally operates slightly differently than the one in executed in provided excel file. The units for HbA1c here must be better emphasized. For example, if we assume HbA1c 9%, HbA1c in the numerator is treated as is (9%, % as a unit is preserved), but HbA1cs in the denominator have their units dropped (changed from 9% to 0.09). In parallel, the formula in excel does the same but multiplies the nominator by 100 (9% -> 900 %) and leaves HbA1cs in the denominator as is (and 1 becomes 100%). This creates some confusion and should be better explained, or an example calculation could be shown.

Results:

1. I think, that any characteristics of this group in needed. They come from already-reported cohorts but this is only a subgroup, so some basic clinical characteristics (if available) would be welcome.

2. Ad Figure 2 May be it should be consider adding a scatter plot showing individual patients or HbA1c measurements. Or, for simplicity, mark how many patients (N, %) had their HbA1c adjusted by up to 1, 1-2, 2-3 and >3%. This will provide a good estimate as to the range of applicability of your equation.

Reviewer #3:

The authors tried to adjust HbA1c to remove influence of erythrocyte lifespan. I admit the need for the adjustment, however, the study seems to lack the confirmation of their method.

1. The authors did not confirm the usefulness of their aHbA1c. The best way may be to confirm future diabetes complications as they mentioned, but it takes many years. I recommend to compare aHbA1c and average glucose derived by CGM.

2. The method requires complicated calculation from CGM data. I am not sure if the method is better than the simple average glucose derived CGM. Maybe, the kinetic method does not require steady state.

3. The value of kgly was not stabilized; from 4.04E-6 to 9.95E-6. kgly is a constant of non-enzymic process. It was estimated to be 6-10E-6, but the most recent one was 7.0E-6 (Kameyama et al. 2021). The average value of 5.86E-6 is smaller than the previously estimated value. I think that this instability is attributable to the nature of the calculation asking both kgly and kage.

4. The value of HbA1c should be converted to IFCC value.

"While the National Glycohemoglobin Standardization Program (NGSP) is used to express HbA1c in many clinical research and medical care settings, NGSP is measured by an old standardized method and at the time of conception, HPLC was not able to distinguish true HbA1c from other products. HPLC technology later advanced, however the derived HbA1c value is adjusted to NGSP in the interest of consistency. IFCC provides a strict definition of iA1c as hemoglobin with a glycated valine in the N-terminal β-chain. Thus, iA1c value is preferred value for estimation of hemoglobin glycation." (Kameyama et al., 2021)

5. The authors chose random destruction model of erythrocytes, however "unlike some other species including mice, all normal human RBCs have about the same lifespan and thus exhibit non-random removal ( Franco, 2009 )." Kameyama et al., (2018) provided erythrocyte model based on Γ-distribution by Shrestha et al., (2016). Program Modification from random destruction model to the uniform distribution of RBC ages model (Γmodel requires 2 parameters, so model that every RBC dies at the same age would be better to program) may be troublesome, but I think it is worth.

6. Equation 1 needs the derivation. i.e. d HbA1c/dt = 0; -kage HbA1c + kgly AG(1-HbA1c) = 0, -kageref HbA1c + kgly AG(1-HbA1c) = 0

Kameyama M, et al., Estimation of the hemoglobin glycation rate constant. Sci Rep. 2021 Jan 13;11(1):986. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-80024-7.

Franco RS. The measurement and importance of red cell survival. Am J Hematol. 2009 Feb;84(2):109-14. doi: 10.1002/ajh.21298.

Kameyama M, Takeuchi S, Ishii S. Steady-state relationship between average glucose, HbA1c and RBC lifespan. J Theor Biol. 2018 Jun 14;447:111-117. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2018.03.023.

Shrestha RP et al. Models for the red blood cell lifespan. J Pharmacokinet Pharmacodyn. 2016 Jun;43(3):259-74. doi: 10.1007/s10928-016-9470-4.

I think that the merit of the author's method is to obtain the erythrocyte lifespan. It would be interesting to compare mean erythrocyte age by Kameyama's equation (Mrbc = HbA1c / ((1-(2/3)HbA1c)kg AG)) and kage.

https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.69456.sa1

Author response

Essential revisions:

1) A more complete description of the derivation of the model – more detail is required as to how the computations were done.

As requested, we now provide further details on model derivation and validation. The additional details have been added to the main text and supplementary materials. More specifically, the following items have been added:

1. Derivation of the model and equation (1) (supplementary materials).

Please see under “Derivation of equation (1): kinetic model review”.

2. Kinetic parameter estimation (main text as below):

“Briefly, the model aligns laboratory HbA1c and the contemporaneous CGM-derived estimate of HbA1c under optimal values for RBC turnover and glucose uptake of each individual. Since there is no simple clinical assay for RBC turnover and glucose uptake, these RBC parameters are estimated using a numerical method such that differences between laboratory HbA1c and CGM-derived estimate are minimized. While parameter identification method can be performed by repeated permutations across all reasonably possible values for RBC lifespan and uptake, our approach uses a far more efficient and reliable numerical method, as previously described [9]. Detailed model description and derivation are provided in the supplementary materials.”

3. Using data from various cohorts, including different ages (paediatric, adult, old), populations (UK, DE, JP) and devices (Abbott, Medtronic), we further validate the model and compare with GMI (Table S1 added to supplementary material).

2) A comparison to other methods of assessing glycemic control (CGM, A1c). While assessment of how the authors' model predicts complications will not be required, a comparison (or at the very least, detailed discussion) of how it can compare to standard means of assessing glycemic control is necessary.

We have added to the Discussion and Supplementary material the differences, advantages and disadvantages of using different average glycemic measures for the management of individuals with diabetes with a summary table (Table S2).

Reviewer #1:

The strengths of this paper include that it builds on previous research and its sample size. However, the calculation for the individual RBC turnover rate, k age , is not included. The calculation for the adjusted HbA1c is too unwieldy for the clinician to use in practice where there is increased pressure to see many patients on a timely basis. If a "calculator" could be formulated allowing the clinician to plug in the relevant values and get the adjusted HbA1c, this could be widely used to improve patient care at the point of care which is the ultimate goal of this research.

We would like to thank the reviewer for this pragmatic suggestion. Our model provides a method to calculate RBC lifespan from glucose and HbA1c data. The optimization algorithm requires powerful software, inclusion of large data sets and complex calculations to accurately derive aHbA1c, hindering current use in routine clinical practice. However, it is envisaged that the software will be included in future CGM devices, which will be able to automatically calculate aHbA1c once provided the necessary HbA1c and CGM data.

To satisfy the reviewer, we do provide a simplified approach to calculate approximate aHbA1c that can be provisionally used in clinical practice, provided there is access to high quality CGM data and two laboratory HbA1c measurements. In following steps, the RBC turnover rate may be estimated from glucose and HbA1c data in the supplementary materials, based on the previous publication [9].

1. For each data sections that contains a CGM trace and beginning and ending HbA1c values, a series of daily average glucose are computed.

2. Feed the daily average glucose series to equation (s9) and perform a search for optimal parameter pair of kgly and kage that A1cZ values best agree with lab values in all data sections available. Once kage is available, equation (1) can be used to provide adjusted HbA1c. The RBC lifespan can be estimated roughly from reticulocyte count as pointed out by the reviewer:

RBC lifespan (days) ≈ 100 ÷ [Reticulocytes (percent) ÷ RLS (days)]

The reticulocyte life span (RLS) is 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, or 2.5 days at hematocrits of 45, 35, 25, and 15 percent, respectively. It can also be estimated by other measurements such as erythrocyte creatine, RDW.

The author's claims of a proposed adjusted HbA1c which is more accurate in predicting adverse outcomes due to diabetes is supported by the data.

Thank you for the comment, in the manuscript we state that this model has the potential to provide a more accurate measure of future diabetes complications but future large scale longitudinal studies are required to assess the clinical role of adjusted HbA1c.

There is a model to estimate RBC lifespan using reticulocyte count: Brodsky, R. A. Diagnosis of hemolytic anemia in the adult. In J. S. Timauer (Ed.) UpToDate, Retrieved February 17, 2020 from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/diagnosis-of-hemolytic-anemia-in-the-adult?search=hemolytic%20anemia&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=1

We would like to thank the reviewer for this helpful suggestion. We are aware of the method estimating RBC lifespan using reticulocyte count but it has a number of drawbacks making it difficult to implement. First, it is a crude calculation of RBC lifespan and therefore the data generated are unlikely to be sensitive to small physiological changes in this parameter, encountered between different individuals. Second, it relies on steady state, indicating the need to take average of several measurements, adding difficulties to data collection and interpretation. Third, it requires repeated reticulocyte data, which are not usually performed in routine clinical practice.

We would have liked to analyse the role of incorporating reticulocytes into the model but we do not have the necessary data to undertake the work. We are evaluating multiple ways of estimating RBC lifespan and glucose uptake rate (added reference [20] in discussion) and will certainly consider adding reticulocyte count as an additional measure to investigate whether this improves the accuracy of the model.

Reviewer #2:

Laboratory HbA1c values are routinely used to assess glycemic control, but differences in red blood cell lifespan can affect hemoglobin glycation and HbA1c values. The authors developed a formula for adjusted HbA1c to account for red blood cell lifespan, which would better represent hemoglobin glycation and thus could better estimate the risk of disease complications.

The authors based their formula for aHbA1c calculation on laboratory measurements of HbA1c and CGM data performed with FreeStyle Libre. When using CGM systems, we often see falsified results for the duration of hypoglycemia, especially at night, due to sensor compression. The authors did not address these technical problems that may affect the aHbA1c result.

The results should be sensor independent as evidenced by a published validation using Medtronic sensor data [17]. The calculation depends on series of daily average glucose between HbA1c measurements. The night-time low readings (due to compression or other artefacts) are usually short and should have a minimal effect on daily average glucose, particularly when large sets of data are collected.

In order to evaluate further, we divided CGM data into tertiles of hypoglycemic exposure (defined as glucose <54 mg/dl) during the period of 11PM – 6AM. The model validation was done by first calculating individual kgly and kage with the first data section and project HbA1c on the second held-out section. We validated the model by comparing the final lab HbA1c and CGM-derived HbA1c. The mean ± SD of the absolute deviation in CGM-derived HbA1c and lab HbA1c (NGSP %) in the lowest hypoglycemic tertile (0-1% or 0-4 mins/night) was 0.32±0.22, middle tertile (1-4% or 4-17 mins/night) was 0.32±0.20, and highest tertile (4-12% or 17-50 mins/night) was 0.30±0.23, showing no difference (p>0.1). Therefore, we conclude that nocturnal hypoglycemic events, whether true or artificial due to sensor compression, do not affect the accuracy of the kinetic model calculation.

Using CGM we now have simple parameters to assess metabolic control of diabetes on the basis of CGM: TIR, GMI, CV. What I miss is a comparative analysis between these parameters and aHbA1c to convince readers that aHbA1c will be a better parameter for long term assessment for risk of complications.

Thank you for raising this point; aHbA1c is an intracellular marker of glycation and thus likely more relevant to diabetes complications that TIR or GMI, which are simply based on plasma glucose levels. We elaborated further in the discussion to clarify this point:

“As a intracellular marker, aHbA1c should correlate with intracellular glucose levels, therefore providing a potentially accurate measure of glucose exposure of organs susceptible to diabetes complications”

and also added Table S2 comparing aHbA1c with other average glycemic measures (please see above).

The authors achieved their goal, and the results support their conclusions.

The use of aHbA1c in daily practice can be difficult because usually the clinician wants a ready result, but for research purposes, especially in patients with shorter red blood cell lifespans, it could be useful.

We would like to thank the reviewer for these positive comments.

It will be interesting to see if its usefulness in estimating the risk of complications will be greater than TIR or GMI with CV.

In theory, aHbA1c should predict complication risk better than HbA1c, or other glycemic markers, by better reflecting intracellular glucose exposure in organs prone to diabetes complications. However, we fully agree with the reviewer that longitudinal studies are required to assess the potential superiority of aHbA1c over other glycaemic markers and this will be part of our long-term strategy.

Some comments on the methods and results:

Methods:

1. The study is based on CGM performed with FreeStyle Libre. From experience, we know that patients often have false hypoglycemia at night due to compression of the sensor. Has this been taken into account in the analysis?

Please see our response above.

2. Currently we use TIR and GMI to assess metabolic control in CGM users. Since aHbA1c, a new parameter will require additional calculations from me as a clinician, does it have advantages over these parameters in assessing the risk of chronic complications. It may be worth doing additional analysis comparing aHbA1c with these parameters.

aHbA1c should reflect intracellular glucose exposure in organs prone to diabetes complications and our data suggests it would be superior to HbA1c, which assesses RBC intracellular glucose exposure but fails to take into account potential artefacts generated by altered RBC lifespan. Also, aHbA1c is potentially a better marker of future complication risk than average plasma extracellular glucose estimations such as TIR and GMI, which fail to take into account intracellular glucose exposure. However, large-scale longitudinal will be required to prove that aHbA1c is a superior marker of diabetes complications and this is our long-term aim. We expanded the discussion to cover the above points and also added a Table addressing differences between aHbA1c and GMI in relation to HbA1c (please see response to comments above).

3. As this is proof of concept, the details of creating the equation should be described, probably in some supplement. In addition, the idea behind the mathematical formula might help explain the equation to the readers. Secondly, the equation presented here is not clear in terms of units, and additionally operates slightly differently than the one in executed in provided excel file. The units for HbA1c here must be better emphasized. For example, if we assume HbA1c 9%, HbA1c in the numerator is treated as is (9%, % as a unit is preserved), but HbA1cs in the denominator have their units dropped (changed from 9% to 0.09). In parallel, the formula in excel does the same but multiplies the nominator by 100 (9% -> 900 %) and leaves HbA1cs in the denominator as is (and 1 becomes 100%). This creates some confusion and should be better explained, or an example calculation could be shown.

We have added further clarifications as requested by the reviewer:

“HbA1c and aHbA1c are in NGSP unit and decimal values should be used. For example, 8% HbA1c should be applied as 0.08. Equation 1 for IFCC unit is available in the supplementary materials.”

Results:

1. I think, that any characteristics of this group in needed. They come from already-reported cohorts but this is only a subgroup, so some basic clinical characteristics (if available) would be welcome.

Basic characteristics of the groups have been added as requested in Table 1.

2. Ad Figure 2 May be it should be consider adding a scatter plot showing individual patients or HbA1c measurements. Or, for simplicity, mark how many patients (N, %) had their HbA1c adjusted by up to 1, 1-2, 2-3 and >3%. This will provide a good estimate as to the range of applicability of your equation.

This has been done as requested:

“The number (percentage) of individuals having HbA1c adjustments < 1% (<11mmol/mol), 1-2% (11-22 mmol/mol), 2-3% (22-33 mmol/mol) and >3% (>33 mmol/mol) were 90 (68%), 21 (16%), 12 (9%), and 8 (6%), respectively.”

Reviewer #3:

The authors tried to adjust HbA1c to remove influence of erythrocyte lifespan. I admit the need for the adjustment, however, the study seems to lack the confirmation of their method.

1. The authors did not confirm the usefulness of their aHbA1c. The best way may be to confirm future diabetes complications as they mentioned, but it takes many years. I recommend to compare aHbA1c and average glucose derived by CGM.

Based on the Brownlee’s work [reference 5], it is the high intracellular glucose exposure that is the main cause of tissue damage and diabetes complications. However, average glucose levels do not necessarily reflect intracellular glucose exposure. Therefore, adjusted HbA1c, which reflects intracellular glycemia, is difficult to compare with average glucose (extracellular) and HbA1c (affected by RBC lifespan). We added this to the discussion and also added Table S2 to summarise strengths and drawbacks of different average glycaemic measures.

2. The method requires complicated calculation from CGM data. I am not sure if the method is better than the simple average glucose derived CGM. Maybe, the kinetic method does not require steady state.

The kinetic parameter determination (for kgly and kage) does not require a steady state. Please refer to the first answer in reviewer #1 for more details on determining kinetic parameters. The kinetic model relies on data from CGM-derived glucose levels and laboratory HbA1c. We demonstrated superior accuracy of the kinetic model compared with the average glucose derived HbA1c (GMI) in the supplementary material (Table S1). The parameter kage (or RBC lifespan) need to be determined before adjusted HbA1c can be calculated. Again, adjusted HbA1c is an intracellular marker, while average glucose is not. This would be particularly relevant in individuals with apparent high laboratory HbA1c and repeated hypoglycaemia or in those with low HbA1c but high average glucose.

3. The value of kgly was not stabilized; from 4.04E-6 to 9.95E-6. kgly is a constant of non-enzymic process. It was estimated to be 6-10E-6, but the most recent one was 7.0E-6 (Kameyama et al., 2021). The average value of 5.86E-6 is smaller than the previously estimated value. I think that this instability is attributable to the nature of the calculation asking both kgly and kage.

Although hemoglobin glycation is a non-enzymatic reaction with constant rate parameters, the reaction is limited by intracellular glucose levels rather than plasma glucose. According to Khera [7], RBC glucose uptake rate or intra/extracellular glucose concentration ratio varies person to person. For this reason, kgly, the overall glycation rate constant, should be an individual kinetic parameter, which explains various kgly values reported in the literature. We highlight this in supplementary materials, summarizing our first publication of the model.

4. The value of HbA1c should be converted to IFCC value.

"While the National Glycohemoglobin Standardization Program (NGSP) is used to express HbA1c in many clinical research and medical care settings, NGSP is measured by an old standardized method and at the time of conception, HPLC was not able to distinguish true HbA1c from other products. HPLC technology later advanced, however the derived HbA1c value is adjusted to NGSP in the interest of consistency. IFCC provides a strict definition of iA1c as hemoglobin with a glycated valine in the N-terminal β-chain. Thus, iA1c value is preferred value for estimation of hemoglobin glycation." (Kameyama et al., 2021)

Thank you for raising this topic. We added equation (1) under NGSP unit system in the supplementary materials.

5. The authors chose random destruction model of erythrocytes, however "unlike some other species including mice, all normal human RBCs have about the same lifespan and thus exhibit non-random removal ( Franco, 2009 )." Kameyama et al., (2018) provided erythrocyte model based on Γ-distribution by Shrestha et al., (2016). Program Modification from random destruction model to the uniform distribution of RBC ages model (Γmodel requires 2 parameters, so model that every RBC dies at the same age would be better to program) may be troublesome, but I think it is worth.

Thank you for the helpful comment and for bringing new references to our attention.

The derivation starts with uniform age distribution or fixed-life model for RBC lifespan as suggested. We added the details to the supplementary materials. The additional complexity brought by glucose uptake following GLUT1 Michaelis-Menten kinetics and the approximations used has led to the steady-state equation (1). These approximations enable a robust application to real-world, non-steady state conditions. We have shown this reflects real world data well, given the accuracy of our validation studies [references 9, 17, 18]. We demonstrate below steady-state solution from a strict uniform age distribution, further confirming robustness of the model.

The steady-state equation (1) under the uniform age distribution is:

The circulating RBCs are produced within the last L days, where L is the expected lifespan. No RBC was lost until age>L. For a small fraction of RBC of age=t, where t<L:

hBgt= kgGIC dtLt,where C is total hemoglobin (C = Hb + HbG)

Therefore, the total glycated hemoglobin is:

HbG= OLkgGI CLtdt= 12kgLGIC= kg2KageGICWhere,kage= 1L

Since HbA1c= HbGC, steady stateHbA1c: EA=kg2KageGI

Equation (1) is about finding HbA1c under a reference kage with the same intracellular glucose level. Therefore, the HbA1c with equivalent intracellular glucose under a reference Kage (GIkage= GIKageref) is:EAKageref= kagekageref EAkage equation (1) becomes:

AhBA1c= kagekagerefHbA1cequation (1f)

This function is very close to equation (1) numerically. Note that equation (1f) is an approximation form of equation (1). In general, the differences between equation (1) and (1f) are less than 0.25% (NGSP) within +/- 20% change of RBC lifespan and HbA1c range of 5-10% (NGSP).

6. Equation 1 needs the derivation. i.e. d HbA1c/dt = 0; -kage HbA1c + kgly AG(1-HbA1c) = 0, -kageref HbA1c + kgly AG(1-HbA1c) = 0

Kameyama M, et al. Estimation of the hemoglobin glycation rate constant. Sci Rep. 2021 Jan 13;11(1):986. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-80024-7.

Franco RS. The measurement and importance of red cell survival. Am J Hematol. 2009 Feb;84(2):109-14. doi: 10.1002/ajh.21298.

Kameyama M, Takeuchi S, Ishii S. Steady-state relationship between average glucose, HbA1c and RBC lifespan. J Theor Biol. 2018 Jun 14;447:111-117. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2018.03.023.

Shrestha RP et al. Models for the red blood cell lifespan. J Pharmacokinet Pharmacodyn. 2016 Jun;43(3):259-74. doi: 10.1007/s10928-016-9470-4.

Thank you for the new references, the majority of which have been incorporated into the current version of the manuscript. Please refer to our reply to essential revision (1) and additional supplementary materials for the derivation of equation 1.

I think that the merit of the author's method is to obtain the erythrocyte lifespan. It would be interesting to compare mean erythrocyte age by Kameyama's equation (Mrbc = HbA1c / ((1-(2/3)HbA1c)kg AG)) and kage.

Future work is required for developing practical and robust methods that accurately measure RBC lifespan. Comparing to Kameyama's equation which has a universal glucose uptake (kgly), our model evaluates kgly as individual-specific variable. Therefore, it is problematic to compare the two methods directly by kage and MRBC. However, the ratio kgly/kage may be comparable with MRBC as per Kameyama’s work. While taking this caveat into account, we investigated the relationship between MRBC and K and found a positive correlation (R=0.62, p<0.0001), providing additional evidence to support of our model.

https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.69456.sa2

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Yongjin Xu

    Abbott Diabetes Care, Alameda, United States
    Contribution
    Conceptualization, Data curation, Formal analysis, Funding acquisition, Investigation, Methodology, Project administration, Software, Supervision, Validation, Visualization, Writing - original draft, Writing - review and editing
    Competing interests
    YX is an employee of Abbott Diabetes Care
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-9446-8402
  2. Richard M Bergenstal

    International Diabetes Center, Park Nicollet, HealthPartners, Minneapolis, United States
    Contribution
    Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Investigation, Methodology, Supervision, Validation, Visualization, Writing - original draft, Writing - review and editing
    Competing interests
    RMB has received research support, has acted as a consultant, or has been on the scientific advisory board for Abbott Diabetes Care, Ascensia, DexCom, Eli Lilly, Hygieia, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, Merck, Novo Nordisk, Onduo, Roche, Sanofi and United Healthcare. RMB's employer, non-profit HealthPartners Institute, contracts for his services and no personal income goes to RMB.
  3. Timothy C Dunn

    Abbott Diabetes Care, Alameda, United States
    Contribution
    Conceptualization, Data curation, Formal analysis, Funding acquisition, Investigation, Methodology, Resources, Supervision, Validation, Visualization, Writing - original draft, Writing - review and editing
    Competing interests
    TCD is an employee of Abbott Diabetes Care
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-3487-2504
  4. Ramzi A Ajjan

    Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom
    Contribution
    Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Investigation, Methodology, Supervision, Validation, Visualization, Writing - original draft, Writing - review and editing
    For correspondence
    R.Ajjan@leeds.ac.uk
    Competing interests
    RAA received no payment for this work but has had research support and/or Honoraria from Abbott Diabetes Care, NovoNordisk, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bayer, Sanofi and AstraZeneca.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-1636-3725

Funding

Abbott Diabetes Care

  • Yongjin Xu
  • Timothy C Dunn

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Acknowledgements

This work was funded by Abbott Diabetes Care.

Ethics

Data were used from two previously published clinical studies in Europe (reference 10 and 11). Both studies were conducted after appropriate ethical approval and participants gave written informed consent.

Senior Editor

  1. Nancy Carrasco, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, United States

Reviewing Editor

  1. Rachel Perry, Yale, United States

Reviewers

  1. Agnieszka Szadkowska
  2. Masashi Kameyama

Publication history

  1. Received: April 15, 2021
  2. Accepted: August 24, 2021
  3. Version of Record published: September 13, 2021 (version 1)

Copyright

© 2021, Xu et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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