The Glu23Lys polymorphism in KCNJ11 and impaired hypoglycaemia awareness in patients with type 1 diabetes

J Hum Genet. 2005;50(10):530-533. doi: 10.1007/s10038-005-0288-y. Epub 2005 Sep 2.


Impaired awareness of hypoglycaemia affects approximately 25% of all patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D). Duration of diabetes and tight glycaemic control represent the main risk factors for hypoglycaemia unawareness. However, even among patients with good glycaemic control and longstanding T1D, awareness of hypoglycaemia may be intact. Genetic factors might explain some of this remaining variability, and genes involved in central glucose sensing should represent plausible candidates. Some evidence indicates that ventromedial hypothalamus glucose-responsive neurons require the potassium inward rectifier (KIR) 6.2 subunit of the K(ATP) channel to sense glucose. Therefore, the effects of the Glu23Lys polymorphism in the KCNJ11 (KIR6.2) gene (potassium inwardly rectifying channel, subfamily J, member 11) on impaired hypoglycaemia awareness in 217 patients with T1D were studied. Hypoglycaemia awareness status was determined using standardized questionnaires. Genotyping of the Glu23Lys in a cohort of T1D subjects was done using the TaqMan allelic discrimination assay (frequency of the Lys-allele = 0.35; P = 0.57 for Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium). The study confirms that diabetes duration, C-peptide, and HbA(1c) represent risk factors for impaired hypoglycaemia awareness. However, no significant effect of the Glu23Lys polymorphism on impaired hypoglycaemia awareness was observed with or without adjustment for age, diabetes duration, C-peptide, and HbA(1c). Even though the study provides a relatively large dataset, it is possible that small differences may have been missed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amino Acid Substitution*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / enzymology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / genetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / complications
  • Hypoglycemia / enzymology
  • Hypoglycemia / genetics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying / genetics*
  • Risk Factors


  • Kir6.2 channel
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying