Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Original investigation

Thresholds of various glycemic measures for diagnosing diabetes based on prevalence of retinopathy in community-dwelling Japanese subjects: the Hisayama Study

Naoko Mukai12*, Miho Yasuda3, Toshiharu Ninomiya12, Jun Hata12, Yoichiro Hirakawa12, Fumie Ikeda12, Masayo Fukuhara12, Taeko Hotta4, Masafumi Koga5, Udai Nakamura2, Dongchon Kang4, Takanari Kitazono2 and Yutaka Kiyohara1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Environmental Medicine, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University, 3-1-1 Maidashi, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan

2 Department of Medicine and Clinical Science, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan

3 Department of Ophthalmology, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan

4 Department of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, Kyushu University Hospital, Fukuoka, Japan

5 Department of Internal Medicine, Kawanishi City Hospital, Hyogo, Japan

For all author emails, please log on.

Cardiovascular Diabetology 2014, 13:45  doi:10.1186/1475-2840-13-45

Published: 17 February 2014



There has been controversy over the diagnostic thresholds of hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) for diabetes. In addition, no study has examined the thresholds of glycated albumin (GA) and 1,5-anhydroglucitol (1,5-AG) for diagnosing diabetes using the presence of diabetic retinopathy (DR). We examined the optimal thresholds of various glycemic measures for diagnosing diabetes based on the prevalence of DR in community-dwelling Japanese subjects.


A total of 2,681 subjects aged 40-79 years underwent a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test, measurement of HbA1c, GA, and 1,5-AG, and an ophthalmic examination in 2007-2008. The associations of glycemic measures with DR status were examined cross-sectionally. DR was assessed by an examination of the fundus photograph of each eye and graded according to the International Clinical Diabetic Retinopathy Disease Severity Scale. We divided the values of glycemic measures into ten groups on the basis of deciles. The receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was performed to determine the optimal threshold of each glycemic measure for detecting the presence of DR.


Of the subjects, 52 had DR. The prevalence of DR increased steeply above the ninth decile for fasting plasma glucose (FPG) (6.2-6.8 mmol/l), for 2-hour postload glucose (PG) (9.2-12.4 mmol/l), for HbA1c (5.9-6.2% [41-44 mmol/mol]), and for GA (16.2-17.5%), and below the second decile for 1,5-AG (9.6-13.5 μg/mL). The ROC curve analysis showed that the optimal thresholds for DR were 6.5 mmol/l for FPG, 11.5 mmol/l for 2-hour PG, 6.1% (43 mmol/mol) for HbA1c, 17.0% for GA, and 12.1 μg/mL for 1,5-AG. The area under the ROC curve (AUC) for 2-hour PG (0.947) was significantly larger than that for FPG (0.908), GA (0.906), and 1,5-AG (0.881), and was marginally significantly higher than that for HbA1c (0.919). The AUCs for FPG, HbA1c, GA, and 1,5-AG were not significantly different.


Our findings suggest that the FPG and HbA1c thresholds for diagnosing diabetes in the Japanese population are lower than the current diagnostic criterion, while the 2-hour PG threshold is comparable with the diagnostic criterion. 2-hour PG had the highest discriminative ability, whereas FPG, HbA1c, GA, and 1,5-AG were similar in their ability.

Diagnostic criteria; Hemoglobin A1c; Glycated albumin; 1,5-anhydroglucitol; Fasting plasma glucose; 2-hour postload glucose; Retinopathy