Genetic variants associated with susceptibility to type 2 diabetes are reported this week in Nature Genetics. Type 2 diabetes (T2D), a primarily adult-onset metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar and resistance to insulin, continues to increase in prevalence worldwide.
Mark McCarthy and colleagues analyzed data from eight genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for T2D, including over 8,130 cases of European descent. The authors then looked at findings in an additional population of 34,412 individuals with T2D. In addition to replicating previous associations, they identify 12 genomic regions newly associated with susceptibility to T2D, bringing the number of confirmed T2D loci to 38. These findings highlight a role for the function of beta-cells ― a cell in the pancreas that makes and releases insulin ― as well as insulin action, in disease pathogenesis. The researchers note that seven of these genomic regions have also been reported in GWAS for other diseases or human traits, including height, cholesterol and lipid levels in the blood, potentially highlighting shared risk factors.