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17-06-2021 | Diabetes | News | Article

Genetic ancestry interacts with social deprivation to modify type 2 diabetes risk

Laura Cowen

medwireNews: Genetic ancestry and socioeconomic deprivation are both significantly associated with type 2 diabetes risk, and may interact to modify that risk, study findings indicate.

Leonardo Mariño-Ramírez (National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, Bethesda, Maryland, USA) and colleagues observed that socioeconomic deprivation is a greater risk factor for type 2 diabetes among individuals with South Asian and African ancestry, compared with those with European ancestry.

They say: “The significant interactions between [socioeconomic deprivation] and [genetic ancestry] underscore how the effects of environmental risk factors can differ among ancestry groups, suggesting the need for group-specific interventions.”

The findings are based on an analysis of UK Biobank data for 27,748 people with type 2 diabetes and 446,436 controls.

As reported in EClinicalMedicine, people who described their ethnicity as Asian had the highest prevalence of type 2 diabetes, at 17.9%, followed by those who were Black (11.7%) and those who were White (5.5%).

In addition, diabetes prevalence increased with increasing socioeconomic deprivation, but the researchers note that the Black group had the highest levels of socioeconomic deprivation, measured using the Townsend index, followed by the Asian group, with the White group having the lowest deprivation levels.

Further analyses showed that male sex, increasing age, and increasing socioeconomic deprivation were each significantly associated with diabetes risk, at odds ratios (ORs) of 1.86, 1.78, and 1.11, respectively.

In addition, there was a significant interaction between socioeconomic deprivation and genetic ancestry – assessed by principal components analysis of whole genome data as a more precise measure of ethnicity than self-report.

This meant that socioeconomic deprivation was “a relatively greater risk factor for [type 2 diabetes] for individuals with South Asian and African ancestry, compared to those with European ancestry,” the researchers remark.

For example, individuals of South Asian ancestry in the highest tertile of social deprivation had a significant 7.95-fold higher risk for type 2 diabetes than people of European ancestry in the lowest deprivation tertile. For people with African ancestry and high deprivation, the risk was 4.95 times higher than that for European people with low deprivation.

Mariño-Ramírez and co-authors conclude that although “it is not possible [to] make any firm conclusions regarding the relative importance” of the contribution of genetic ancestry versus socioeconomic deprivation to diabetes risk, their data suggest “that more ancestry-specific interventions need to be taken at the policy level to ameliorate health disparities, channeling resources to communities which are at highest risk.”

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Ltd. © 2021 Springer Healthcare Ltd, part of the Springer Nature Group

EClinicalMedicine 2021; doi:10.1016/j.eclinm.2021.100960

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