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Study finds genetic susceptibility shared among ancestry

A research team consisting of professors from the Macau University of Science and Technology (MUST) has showed that there is a substantial shared genetic susceptibility to one type of diabetes among populations with East Asian ancestry and in European individuals.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:48 am

A research team consisting of professors from the Macau University of Science and Technology (MUST) has showed that there is a substantial shared genetic susceptibility to one type of diabetes among populations with East Asian ancestry and in European individuals.

Recently, a group of over 100 researchers from 30 organisations, including the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the National University of Singapore, and the University of Tokyo undertook a study of diabetes among East Asian individuals.

This study is thought to be the largest meta-analysis using genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in East Asians to identify the genetic loci associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D).

It also provides the most comprehensive and precise catalogue of East Asian T2D genetic association effects available so far.

The research involved nearly half a million people with T2D and healthy control individuals from 23 East Asian studies.

This study emphasises the substantial shared genetic susceptibility to T2D among populations with East Asian ancestry and European individuals, as shown by the strong correlation of effect sizes among T2D-associated genetic variants with common allele frequencies.

However, compared to a recent study of T2D-associated genetic variants in individuals of European ancestry, there was less attenuation of effects on T2D in analyses adjusted for BMI in the East Asian subjects.

In East Asian populations, T2D typically occurs at lower BMI and waist circumference levels than in European populations.

The common variants that have been associated with T2D in European populations showed strongly correlated effect sizes in the East Asian populations in this new study.

The strongest difference between sexes was seen at a region near ALDH2 genes, which showed strong association in males but no association in females. ALDH2 encodes aldehyde dehydrogenase, a key enzyme in alcohol metabolism.

Variants at this locus leading to reduced aldehyde dehydrogenase activity and reduced alcohol metabolism are associated with flushing, nausea, and headache following alcohol consumption in East Asians.

The T2D risk allele near ALDH2 is associated with the better tolerance of alcohol and increased BMI, blood pressure and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, but decreased low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and lower cardiovascular risk.

These results provide a foundation for future biological research into the pathogenesis of T2D and offer potential targets for interventions designed to modify disease risk.

According to MUST, association studies in diverse populations like this are important to identify additional loci and elucidate disease-associated genes, biology, and pathways.

(Macau Daily Times/Macau News)
PHOTO © Macau University of Science and Technology

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:48 am

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