Diabetes and heart disease linked by genes, study reveals
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) has become a global epidemic affecting more than 380 million people worldwide; yet there are knowledge gaps in understanding the etiology of type-2 diabetes. T2D is also a significant risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD), but the biological pathways that explain the connection have remained somewhat murky. Now, in a large analysis of genetic data, published on August 28, 2017 in Nature Genetics, a team, led by researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has first looked into what causes T2D and second clarified how T2D and CHD - the two diseases that are the leading cause of global morbidity and mortality, are linked.
Examining genome sequence information for more than 250,000 people, the researchers first uncovered 16 new diabetes genetic risk factors, and one new CHD genetic risk factor; hence providing novel insights about the mechanisms of the two diseases. They then showed that most of the sites on the genome known to be associated with higher diabetes risk are also associated with higher CHD risk. For eight of these sites, the researchers were able to identify a specific gene variant that influences risk for both diseases. The shared genetic risk factors affect biological pathways including immunity, cell proliferation, and heart development.
The findings add to the basic scientific understanding of both these major diseases and point to potential targets for future drugs.
"Identifying these gene variants linked to both type 2 diabetes and CHD risk in principle opens up opportunities to lower the risk Continue reading