Type 2 diabetes gene linked to childhood BMI
MedWire News: Results from a genome-wide association study show that a variant of the gene HHEX-IDE previously associated with Type 2 diabetes is also linked to elevated childhood body mass index (BMI).
“Previously we thought that this gene affects insulin production during adulthood, but we now see that it may play an early role in influencing insulin resistance through its impact on body size during childhood,” said Struan Grant (University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, USA).
“One implication is that if we can develop medicines to target specific biological pathways in childhood, we may be able to prevent diabetes from developing later in life.”
The team investigated the association of pediatric BMI with 20 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at 18 previously discovered genetic loci associated with Type 2 diabetes. The study cohort comprised 7184 children of European ancestry who were randomly divided into a “discovery” cohort (n=3592) and a “replication” cohort (n=3592) for the purposes of this study.
Grant and co-investigators found that presence of the Type 2 diabetes risk-conferring G allele of the rs7923837 SNP of HHEX-IDE was associated with significantly increased pediatric BMI in both the discovery and the replication cohorts between the ages of 3 and 16 years.
The HHEX-IDE association with childhood BMI was the only one of statistical significance, with the exception of the previously established association between BMI and the rs3751812 SNP of the FTO gene.
“This finding suggests that there may be genetic activity during childhood that lays the foundation for the later development of Type 2 diabetes,” concluded Grant.
The results of this study are published in the journal Diabetes.
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By Helen Albert