Genetic risk scores help predict type 2 diabetes in people of south Asian origin

Queen Mary University researchers discovered that type 2 diabetes can be predicted by genetic risk scores in people of south Asian descent. Credit: Genes & Health Research Team, Queen Mary University (CC-BY 4.0, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

A new study published in the open-access journal, May 19, shows that combining a genetic risk score and a clinical risk score improves the prediction of type-2 diabetes in British Pakistani or British Bangladeshi citizens, particularly in the young. PLOS Medicine Sarah Finer of Queen Mary University of London (U.K.) and colleagues

People of European ancestry have extensively studied the genetic changes that are associated with type 2 Diabetes. It is not yet known if all of the previous findings can be applied for people of south Asian descent, who are both disproportionately affected and underrepresented in genetic studies. The new study used genomic and routine health data from Genes & Health, a large population study of British Pakistanis and British Bangladeshis, including 7,599 with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.

Researchers found significant genetic differences in type-2 diabetes risk that were not seen in previous studies of European populations. Only 76 (22.5%) of the 338 genetic loci found in European populations were transferable to British Pakistanis or British Bangladeshis. The team created a type-2 diabetes polygenic risk score using the data from the study. The tool combined with QDiabetes (a commonly-used clinical risk score), improved the prediction of type 2. The tool was particularly effective in assessing risk in British Pakistani and British Bangladeshi people under the age of 40 (net reclassification index 5.6%, 95% CI 3.6—7.6%), and also in predicting the development of type 2 diabetes after gestational diabetes. The polygenic score was able also to identify subgroups of disease that are linked to different risks of developing diabetes complications in the future.

The authors note that “our work highlights the importance to include more diverse ancestry group in genetic studies of type2 diabetes.” “Our polygenic risk score has many potential applications, but it helped identify young, otherwise-healthy individuals who were actually living at high risks of type 2 diabetes. 1/20 of them might have been incorrectly labeled low risk by current clinical assessment tools. Our research also shows the potential of using polygenic risk scores to characterize distinct disease subgroups at diagnosis, which have different rates for progression to diabetes complications.

Finer states, “We hope to have polygenic risk score being adopted in clinical practice in the future, following careful evaluation to understand their potential cost-effectiveness in improving health outcomes and working with diverse populations that are most in need.”

Healthy lifestyles can help to prevent gestational diabetics in those at greatest genetic risk

More information:
PLoS Medicine (2022). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003981

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Type 2 diabetes can be predicted by genetic risk scores in people of south Asian descent (2022, May 19).
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