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.
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 .
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.
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.