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1.  Mendelian Randomization Studies Do Not Support a Role for Raised Circulating Triglyceride Levels Influencing Type 2 Diabetes, Glucose Levels, or Insulin Resistance 
Diabetes  2011;60(3):1008-1018.
OBJECTIVE
The causal nature of associations between circulating triglycerides, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes is unclear. We aimed to use Mendelian randomization to test the hypothesis that raised circulating triglyceride levels causally influence the risk of type 2 diabetes and raise normal fasting glucose levels and hepatic insulin resistance.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We tested 10 common genetic variants robustly associated with circulating triglyceride levels against the type 2 diabetes status in 5,637 case and 6,860 control subjects and four continuous outcomes (reflecting glycemia and hepatic insulin resistance) in 8,271 nondiabetic individuals from four studies.
RESULTS
Individuals carrying greater numbers of triglyceride-raising alleles had increased circulating triglyceride levels (SD 0.59 [95% CI 0.52–0.65] difference between the 20% of individuals with the most alleles and the 20% with the fewest alleles). There was no evidence that the carriers of greater numbers of triglyceride-raising alleles were at increased risk of type 2 diabetes (per weighted allele odds ratio [OR] 0.99 [95% CI 0.97–1.01]; P = 0.26). In nondiabetic individuals, there was no evidence that carriers of greater numbers of triglyceride-raising alleles had increased fasting insulin levels (SD 0.00 per weighted allele [95% CI −0.01 to 0.02]; P = 0.72) or increased fasting glucose levels (0.00 [−0.01 to 0.01]; P = 0.88). Instrumental variable analyses confirmed that genetically raised circulating triglyceride levels were not associated with increased diabetes risk, fasting glucose, or fasting insulin and, for diabetes, showed a trend toward a protective association (OR per 1-SD increase in log10 triglycerides: 0.61 [95% CI 0.45–0.83]; P = 0.002).
CONCLUSIONS
Genetically raised circulating triglyceride levels do not increase the risk of type 2 diabetes or raise fasting glucose or fasting insulin levels in nondiabetic individuals. One explanation for our results is that raised circulating triglycerides are predominantly secondary to the diabetes disease process rather than causal.
doi:10.2337/db10-1317
PMCID: PMC3046819  PMID: 21282362
2.  Interrogating Type 2 Diabetes Genome-Wide Association Data Using a Biological Pathway-Based Approach 
Diabetes  2009;58(6):1463-1467.
OBJECTIVE
Recent genome-wide association studies have resulted in a dramatic increase in our knowledge of the genetic loci involved in type 2 diabetes. In a complementary approach to these single-marker studies, we attempted to identify biological pathways associated with type 2 diabetes. This approach could allow us to identify additional risk loci.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We used individual level genotype data generated from the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium (WTCCC) type 2 diabetes study, consisting of 393,143 autosomal SNPs, genotyped across 1,924 case subjects and 2,938 control subjects. We sought additional evidence from summary level data available from the Diabetes Genetics Initiative (DGI) and the Finland-United States Investigation of NIDDM Genetics (FUSION) studies. Statistical analysis of pathways was performed using a modification of the Gene Set Enrichment Algorithm (GSEA). A total of 439 pathways were analyzed from the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes, Gene Ontology, and BioCarta databases.
RESULTS
After correcting for the number of pathways tested, we found no strong evidence for any pathway showing association with type 2 diabetes (top Padj = 0.31). The candidate WNT-signaling pathway ranked top (nominal P = 0.0007, excluding TCF7L2; P = 0.002), containing a number of promising single gene associations. These include CCND2 (rs11833537; P = 0.003), SMAD3 (rs7178347; P = 0.0006), and PRICKLE1 (rs1796390; P = 0.001), all expressed in the pancreas.
CONCLUSIONS
Common variants involved in type 2 diabetes risk are likely to occur in or near genes in multiple pathways. Pathway-based approaches to genome-wide association data may be more successful for some complex traits than others, depending on the nature of the underlying disease physiology.
doi:10.2337/db08-1378
PMCID: PMC2682674  PMID: 19252133
3.  Assessing the Combined Impact of 18 Common Genetic Variants of Modest Effect Sizes on Type 2 Diabetes Risk 
Diabetes  2008;57(11):3129-3135.
OBJECTIVES—Genome-wide association studies have dramatically increased the number of common genetic variants that are robustly associated with type 2 diabetes. A possible clinical use of this information is to identify individuals at high risk of developing the disease, so that preventative measures may be more effectively targeted. Here, we assess the ability of 18 confirmed type 2 diabetes variants to differentiate between type 2 diabetic case and control subjects.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—We assessed index single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for the 18 independent loci in 2,598 control subjects and 2,309 case subjects from the Genetics of Diabetes Audit and Research Tayside Study. The discriminatory ability of the combined SNP information was assessed by grouping individuals based on number of risk alleles carried and determining relative odds of type 2 diabetes and by calculating the area under the receiver-operator characteristic curve (AUC).
RESULTS—Individuals carrying more risk alleles had a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. For example, 1.2% of individuals with >24 risk alleles had an odds ratio of 4.2 (95% CI 2.11–8.56) against the 1.8% with 10–12 risk alleles. The AUC (a measure of discriminative accuracy) for these variants was 0.60. The AUC for age, BMI, and sex was 0.78, and adding the genetic risk variants only marginally increased this to 0.80.
CONCLUSIONS—Currently, common risk variants for type 2 diabetes do not provide strong predictive value at a population level. However, the joint effect of risk variants identified subgroups of the population at substantially different risk of disease. Further studies are needed to assess whether individuals with extreme numbers of risk alleles may benefit from genetic testing.
doi:10.2337/db08-0504
PMCID: PMC2570411  PMID: 18591388
4.  FTO Gene Variants are Strongly Associated with Type 2 Diabetes but only weakly with Obesity in South Asian Indians 
Diabetologia  2008;52(2):247-252.
Background
Variants in FTO (fat mass and obesity associated) gene are associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D) in white Europeans. These associations are not consistent in Asians and there are few reports in South Asian Indians who develop T2D at a much lower body mass index (BMI) than that in the white Europeans.
Aims and hypothesis
We studied the association of FTO variants with T2D and measures of obesity in South Asian Indians in Pune, India.
Methods
We genotyped by sequencing, two SNPs rs9939609 and rs7191344, in the FTO gene in 1453 type 2 diabetes patients and 1361 controls and a further 961 population based individuals from India .
Results
We observed a strong association of the minor allele A at rs9939609 with T2D (OR per allele =1.26 [95% CI, 1.13-1.40], P=3×10-5). The variant was also associated with BMI but this association appeared to be weaker (0.06SDs; 95%CIs:0.01-0.10, p=0.017) than the previously reported effect in Europeans (0.10SDs 95%CIs:0.09-0.12). Unlike in the Europeans, the association with T2D remained when adjusting for BMI (OR per allele for T2D=1.21 (95% CI, 1.06-1.37); P=4.0 × 10-3). Similar results were obtained when using waist circumference and other anthropometric parameters.
Conclusions
Our study replicates the strong association of FTO variants with type 2 diabetes in South Asian Indians but suggests that the association of FTO with T2D in them might operate through mechanisms other than obesity. This could imply a fundamental difference between Indians and Europeans in the mechanisms linking body size with T2D.
doi:10.1007/s00125-008-1186-6
PMCID: PMC2658005  PMID: 19005641
FTO; type 2 diabetes mellitus; polymorphisms; ethnicity; body mass index
5.  Multiple type 2 diabetes susceptibility genes following genome-wide association scan in UK samples 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2007;316(5829):1336-1341.
The molecular mechanisms involved in the development of type 2 diabetes are poorly understood. Starting from genome-wide genotype data for 1,924 diabetic cases and 2,938 population controls generated by the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium, we set out to detect replicated diabetes association signals through analysis of 3,757 additional cases and 5,346 controls, and by integration of our findings with equivalent data from other international consortia. We detected diabetes susceptibility loci in and around the genes CDKAL1, CDKN2A/CDKN2B and IGF2BP2 and confirmed the recently described associations at HHEX/IDE and SLC30A8. Our findings provide insights into the genetic architecture of type 2 diabetes, emphasizing the contribution of multiple variants of modest effect. The regions identified underscore the importance of pathways influencing pancreatic beta cell development and function in the etiology of type 2 diabetes.
doi:10.1126/science.1142364
PMCID: PMC3772310  PMID: 17463249
6.  Common Variation in the FTO Gene Alters Diabetes-Related Metabolic Traits to the Extent Expected Given Its Effect on BMI 
Diabetes  2008;57(5):1419-1426.
OBJECTIVE
Common variation in the FTO gene is associated with BMI and type 2 diabetes. Increased BMI is associated with diabetes risk factors, including raised insulin, glucose, and triglycerides. We aimed to test whether FTO genotype is associated with variation in these metabolic traits.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We tested the association between FTO genotype and 10 metabolic traits using data from 17,037 white European individuals. We compared the observed effect of FTO genotype on each trait to that expected given the FTO-BMI and BMI-trait associations.
RESULTS
Each copy of the FTO rs9939609 A allele was associated with higher fasting insulin (0.039 SD [95% CI 0.013–0.064]; P = 0.003), glucose (0.024 [0.001– 0.048]; P = 0.044), and triglycerides (0.028 [0.003– 0.052]; P = 0.025) and lower HDL cholesterol (0.032 [0.008 – 0.057]; P = 0.009). There was no evidence of these associations when adjusting for BMI. Associations with fasting alanine aminotransferase, γ-glutamyl-transferase, LDL cholesterol, A1C, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure were in the expected direction but did not reach P < 0.05. For all metabolic traits, effect sizes were consistent with those expected for the per allele change in BMI. FTO genotype was associated with a higher odds of metabolic syndrome (odds ratio 1.17 [95% CI 1.10 –1.25]; P = 3 × 10−6).
CONCLUSIONS
FTO genotype is associated with metabolic traits to an extent entirely consistent with its effect on BMI. Sample sizes of >12,000 individuals were needed to detect associations at P < 0.05. Our findings highlight the importance of using appropriately powered studies to assess the effects of a known diabetes or obesity variant on secondary traits correlated with these conditions.
doi:10.2337/db07-1466
PMCID: PMC3073395  PMID: 18346983
7.  Type 2 Diabetes Risk Alleles Are Associated With Reduced Size at Birth 
Diabetes  2009;58(6):1428-1433.
OBJECTIVE
Low birth weight is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. The mechanisms underlying this association are unknown and may represent intrauterine programming or two phenotypes of one genotype. The fetal insulin hypothesis proposes that common genetic variants that reduce insulin secretion or action may predispose to type 2 diabetes and also reduce birth weight, since insulin is a key fetal growth factor. We tested whether common genetic variants that predispose to type 2 diabetes also reduce birth weight.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We genotyped single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at five recently identified type 2 diabetes loci (CDKAL1, CDKN2A/B, HHEX-IDE, IGF2BP2, and SLC30A8) in 7,986 mothers and 19,200 offspring from four studies of white Europeans. We tested the association between maternal or fetal genotype at each locus and birth weight of the offspring.
RESULTS
We found that type 2 diabetes risk alleles at the CDKAL1 and HHEX-IDE loci were associated with reduced birth weight when inherited by the fetus (21 g [95% CI 11–31], P = 2 × 10−5, and 14 g [4–23], P = 0.004, lower birth weight per risk allele, respectively). The 4% of offspring carrying four risk alleles at these two loci were 80 g (95% CI 39–120) lighter at birth than the 8% carrying none (Ptrend = 5 × 10−7). There were no associations between birth weight and fetal genotypes at the three other loci or maternal genotypes at any locus.
CONCLUSIONS
Our results are in keeping with the fetal insulin hypothesis and provide robust evidence that common disease-associated variants can alter size at birth directly through the fetal genotype.
doi:10.2337/db08-1739
PMCID: PMC2682672  PMID: 19228808
8.  Adiposity-Related Heterogeneity in Patterns of Type 2 Diabetes Susceptibility Observed in Genome-Wide Association Data 
Diabetes  2009;58(2):505-510.
OBJECTIVE—This study examined how differences in the BMI distribution of type 2 diabetic case subjects affected genome-wide patterns of type 2 diabetes association and considered the implications for the etiological heterogeneity of type 2 diabetes.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—We reanalyzed data from the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium genome-wide association scan (1,924 case subjects, 2,938 control subjects: 393,453 single-nucleotide polymorphisms [SNPs]) after stratifying case subjects (into “obese” and “nonobese”) according to median BMI (30.2 kg/m2). Replication of signals in which alternative case-ascertainment strategies generated marked effect size heterogeneity in type 2 diabetes association signal was sought in additional samples.
RESULTS—In the “obese-type 2 diabetes” scan, FTO variants had the strongest type 2 diabetes effect (rs8050136: relative risk [RR] 1.49 [95% CI 1.34–1.66], P = 1.3 × 10−13), with only weak evidence for TCF7L2 (rs7901695 RR 1.21 [1.09–1.35], P = 0.001). This situation was reversed in the “nonobese” scan, with FTO association undetectable (RR 1.07 [0.97–1.19], P = 0.19) and TCF7L2 predominant (RR 1.53 [1.37–1.71], P = 1.3 × 10−14). These patterns, confirmed by replication, generated strong combined evidence for between-stratum effect size heterogeneity (FTO: PDIFF = 1.4 × 10−7; TCF7L2: PDIFF = 4.0 × 10−6). Other signals displaying evidence of effect size heterogeneity in the genome-wide analyses (on chromosomes 3, 12, 15, and 18) did not replicate. Analysis of the current list of type 2 diabetes susceptibility variants revealed nominal evidence for effect size heterogeneity for the SLC30A8 locus alone (RRobese 1.08 [1.01–1.15]; RRnonobese 1.18 [1.10–1.27]: PDIFF = 0.04).
CONCLUSIONS—This study demonstrates the impact of differences in case ascertainment on the power to detect and replicate genetic associations in genome-wide association studies. These data reinforce the notion that there is substantial etiological heterogeneity within type 2 diabetes.
doi:10.2337/db08-0906
PMCID: PMC2628627  PMID: 19056611
9.  Population-Specific Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Conferred by HNF4A P2 Promoter Variants 
Diabetes  2008;57(11):3161-3165.
OBJECTIVE—Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the P2 promoter region of HNF4A were originally shown to be associated with predisposition for type 2 diabetes in Finnish, Ashkenazi, and, more recently, Scandinavian populations, but they generated conflicting results in additional populations. We aimed to investigate whether data from a large-scale mapping approach would replicate this association in novel Ashkenazi samples and in U.K. populations and whether these data would allow us to refine the association signal.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—Using a dense linkage disequilibrium map of 20q, we selected SNPs from a 10-Mb interval centered on HNF4A. In a staged approach, we first typed 4,608 SNPs in case-control populations from four U.K. populations and an Ashkenazi population (n = 2,516). In phase 2, a subset of 763 SNPs was genotyped in 2,513 additional samples from the same populations.
RESULTS—Combined analysis of both phases demonstrated association between HNF4A P2 SNPs (rs1884613 and rs2144908) and type 2 diabetes in the Ashkenazim (n = 991; P < 1.6 × 10−6). Importantly, these associations are significant in a subset of Ashkenazi samples (n = 531) not previously tested for association with P2 SNPs (odds ratio [OR] ∼1.7; P < 0.002), thus providing replication within the Ashkenazim. In the U.K. populations, this association was not significant (n = 4,022; P > 0.5), and the estimate for the OR was much smaller (OR 1.04; [95%CI 0.91–1.19]).
CONCLUSIONS—These data indicate that the risk conferred by HNF4A P2 is significantly different between U.K. and Ashkenazi populations (P < 0.00007), suggesting that the underlying causal variant remains unidentified. Interactions with other genetic or environmental factors may also contribute to this difference in risk between populations.
doi:10.2337/db08-0719
PMCID: PMC2570416  PMID: 18728231
10.  Population-Specific Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Conferred by HNF4A P2 Promoter Variants 
Diabetes  2008;57(11):3161-3165.
OBJECTIVE
Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the P2 promoter region of HNF4A were originally shown to be associated with predisposition for type 2 diabetes in Finnish, Ashkenazi, and, more recently, Scandinavian populations, but they generated conflicting results in additional populations. We aimed to investigate whether data from a large-scale mapping approach would replicate this association in novel Ashkenazi samples and in U.K. populations and whether these data would allow us to refine the association signal.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Using a dense linkage disequilibrium map of 20q, we selected SNPs from a 10-Mb interval centered on HNF4A. In a staged approach, we first typed 4,608 SNPs in case-control populations from four U.K. populations and an Ashkenazi population (n = 2,516). In phase 2, a subset of 763 SNPs was genotyped in 2,513 additional samples from the same populations.
RESULTS
Combined analysis of both phases demonstrated association between HNF4A P2 SNPs (rs1884613 and rs2144908) and type 2 diabetes in the Ashkenazim (n = 991; P < 1.6 × 10−6). Importantly, these associations are significant in a subset of Ashkenazi samples (n = 531) not previously tested for association with P2 SNPs (odds ratio [OR] ~1.7; P < 0.002), thus providing replication within the Ashkenazim. In the U.K. populations, this association was not significant (n = 4,022; P > 0.5), and the estimate for the OR was much smaller (OR 1.04; [95%CI 0.91-1.19]).
CONCLUSIONS
These data indicate that the risk conferred by HNF4A P2 is significantly different between U.K. and Ashkenazi populations (P < 0.00007), suggesting that the underlying causal variant remains unidentified. Interactions with other genetic or environmental factors may also contribute to this difference in risk between populations.
doi:10.2337/db08-0719
PMCID: PMC2570416  PMID: 18728231
11.  A Genome-Wide Association Study Identifies Protein Quantitative Trait Loci (pQTLs) 
PLoS Genetics  2008;4(5):e1000072.
There is considerable evidence that human genetic variation influences gene expression. Genome-wide studies have revealed that mRNA levels are associated with genetic variation in or close to the gene coding for those mRNA transcripts – cis effects, and elsewhere in the genome – trans effects. The role of genetic variation in determining protein levels has not been systematically assessed. Using a genome-wide association approach we show that common genetic variation influences levels of clinically relevant proteins in human serum and plasma. We evaluated the role of 496,032 polymorphisms on levels of 42 proteins measured in 1200 fasting individuals from the population based InCHIANTI study. Proteins included insulin, several interleukins, adipokines, chemokines, and liver function markers that are implicated in many common diseases including metabolic, inflammatory, and infectious conditions. We identified eight Cis effects, including variants in or near the IL6R (p = 1.8×10−57), CCL4L1 (p = 3.9×10−21), IL18 (p = 6.8×10−13), LPA (p = 4.4×10−10), GGT1 (p = 1.5×10−7), SHBG (p = 3.1×10−7), CRP (p = 6.4×10−6) and IL1RN (p = 7.3×10−6) genes, all associated with their respective protein products with effect sizes ranging from 0.19 to 0.69 standard deviations per allele. Mechanisms implicated include altered rates of cleavage of bound to unbound soluble receptor (IL6R), altered secretion rates of different sized proteins (LPA), variation in gene copy number (CCL4L1) and altered transcription (GGT1). We identified one novel trans effect that was an association between ABO blood group and tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) levels (p = 6.8×10−40), but this finding was not present when TNF-alpha was measured using a different assay , or in a second study, suggesting an assay-specific association. Our results show that protein levels share some of the features of the genetics of gene expression. These include the presence of strong genetic effects in cis locations. The identification of protein quantitative trait loci (pQTLs) may be a powerful complementary method of improving our understanding of disease pathways.
Author Summary
One of the central dogmas of molecular genetics is that DNA is transcribed to RNA which is translated to protein and alterations to proteins can influence human diseases. Genome-wide association studies have recently revealed many new DNA variants that influence human diseases. To complement these efforts, several genome-wide studies have established that DNA variation influences mRNA expression levels. Loci influencing mRNA levels have been termed “eQTLs”. In this study we have performed the first genome-wide association study of the third piece in this jigsaw – the role of DNA variation in relation to protein levels, or “pQTLs”. We analysed 42 proteins measured in blood fractions from the InCHIANTI study. We identified eight cis effects including common variants in or near the IL6R, CCL4, IL18, LPA, GGT1, SHBG, CRP and IL1RN genes, all associated with blood levels of their respective protein products. Mechanisms implicated included altered transcription (GGT1) but also rates of cleavage of bound to unbound soluble receptor (IL6R), altered secretion rates of different sized proteins (LPA) and variation in gene copy number (CCL4). Blood levels of many of these proteins are correlated with human diseases and the identification of “pQTLs” may in turn help our understanding of disease.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000072
PMCID: PMC2362067  PMID: 18464913

Results 1-11 (11)