Genetic epidemiology of insulin resistance and visceral adiposity. The IRAS Family Study design and methods

Ann Epidemiol. 2003 Apr;13(4):211-7. doi: 10.1016/s1047-2797(02)00412-x.


Purpose: Insulin resistance and visceral adiposity are associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes. In this report, we describe the methods of the IRAS Family Study, which was designed to identify the genetic and environmental risk factors for insulin resistance and visceral adiposity.

Methods: Families from two ethnic groups (African American and Hispanic) have been recruited from three clinical sites. Blood samples for DNA as well as other standard measures were collected. A CT scan (visceral adiposity) and a frequently sampled glucose tolerance test (insulin resistance) were performed. Preliminary estimates of heritability for indirect measures related to insulin resistance and visceral adiposity were obtained using a variance components approach in the first 93 families (approximately 1000 individuals).

Results: Estimates of heritability ranged from low (0.08) for fasting insulin and HOMA, to moderate (0.28) for fasting glucose, to high (0.54) for BMI. After adjustment for age, gender and ethnicity, all heritability estimates were significantly greater than zero (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: These results are consistent with the expectation that intermediate measures of insulin resistance and visceral adiposity are heritable, and that the IRAS Family Study has statistical power to detect these intermediate phenotypes of type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Adult
  • African Americans
  • Arteriosclerosis / epidemiology
  • Arteriosclerosis / genetics
  • Body Composition / genetics*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / genetics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged