Indians Get Diabetes Before Europeans

Underscoring the importance of an individual’s genetic make-up in disease development, a new study has confirmed the association of eight gene variants with type 2 diabetes in Indians.

With Genome Wide Association studies worldwide revealing the likely link of about 20 loci with type 2 diabetes, scientists from Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) and three other institutions in the country investigated the association of eight common and well-established genetic variants with type 2 diabetes in 5,148 Indians.

The study was recently published in ‘Diabetes’, a journal brought out by the American Diabetes Association.

According to Giriraj R. Chandak, senior scientist from Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, the onset of diabetes among Indians was a decade earlier than in Europeans and at a lower body mass index (BMI), probably because of excess fat around the abdomen.

As a result, the other health problems associated with diabetes too get manifested earlier than in Europeans or others. With each of the variants having its own impact in developing the risk for diabetes, it was found that the effect was much higher in Indians.He said there could be more than the eight variants which were so far found to be associated with diabetes in Indians.

The identified variants increased the risk of diabetes by 21 to 25 per cent. The risk of developing diabetes was found to be higher when an individual carried more than a single variant.

Stating that the study gave a clear idea of how genetics played an important role in development of diabetes, the senior scientist said, it however, remained to be seen how the gene variants interact with other lifestyle risk factors like diet and lack of exercise.

Early identification of such genetic variants could help in prediction of diabetes risk in individuals as also in developing targeted drug therapy.

The other institutes involved in the study are Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Delhi, King Edward Memorial Hospital and Research Centre, Pune and Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata.

Y Mallikarjun/The Hindu

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