Aims/hypothesis: Insulin-requiring diabetes affects 25-50% of young adults with cystic fibrosis (CF). Although the cause of diabetes in CF is unknown, recent heritability studies in CF twins and siblings indicate that genetic modifiers play a substantial role. We sought to assess whether genes conferring risk for diabetes in the general population may play a risk modifying role in CF.
Methods: We tested whether a family history of type 2 diabetes affected diabetes risk in CF patients in 539 families in the CF Twin and Sibling family-based study. A type 2 diabetes susceptibility gene (transcription factor 7-like 2, or TCF7L2) was evaluated for association with diabetes in CF using 998 patients from the family-based study and 802 unrelated CF patients in an independent case-control study.
Results: Family history of type 2 diabetes increased the risk of diabetes in CF (OR 3.1; p = 0.0009). A variant in TCF7L2 associated with type 2 diabetes (the T allele at rs7903146) was associated with diabetes in CF in the family study (p = 0.004) and in the case-control study (p = 0.02; combined p = 0.0002). In the family-based study, variation in TCF7L2 increased the risk of diabetes about three-fold (HR 1.75 per allele, 95% CI 1.3-2.4; p = 0.0006), and decreased the mean age at diabetes diagnosis by 7 years. In CF patients not treated with systemic glucocorticoids, the effect of TCF7L2 was even greater (HR 2.9 per allele, 95% CI 1.7-4.9, p = 0.00011).
Conclusions/interpretation: A genetic variant conferring risk for type 2 diabetes in the general population is a modifier of risk for diabetes in CF.