Activin A and its binding protein follistatin may be crucial in glucose homeostasis, as multifunctional proteins mediating inflammatory and anti-inflammatory effects. However, clinical data on the activin A level in prediabetes, and the association between the circulating activin A level and carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT), are lacking. We aimed to investigate activin A and follistatin levels and their associations with cIMT. In total, 470 inhabitants of I-Lan county (235 men; mean age 69 ± 9 years) with measurements of serum activin A and follistatin levels were included. Patients with prediabetes and diabetes had significantly increased activin A concentrations compared with those in the normal glycemic group (both p < 0.001). A multivariable logistic regression model demonstrated that the circulating activin A level was associated with prediabetes and diabetes independently of other risk factors. Moreover, the circulating activin A levels were associated positively with cIMT in prediabetes (r s = 0.264, p = 0.001). In conclusion, activin A level, but not follistatin, was elevated independent of demographic variables with borderline significance and was correlated positively with cIMT in prediabetes. Activin A and follistatin levels were elevated in diabetes. In addition, elevated activin A was an independent risk factor for prediabetes and diabetes.
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