Genetics of type 2 diabetes

Clin Chem. 2011 Feb;57(2):241-54. doi: 10.1373/clinchem.2010.157016. Epub 2010 Nov 30.


Background: Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a complex disorder that is affected by multiple genetic and environmental factors. Extensive efforts have been made to identify the disease-affecting genes to better understand the disease pathogenesis, find new targets for clinical therapy, and allow prediction of disease.

Content: Our knowledge about the genes involved in disease pathogenesis has increased substantially in recent years, thanks to genomewide association studies and international collaborations joining efforts to collect the huge numbers of individuals needed to study complex diseases on a population level. We have summarized what we have learned so far about the genes that affect T2D risk and their functions. Although more than 40 loci associated with T2D or glycemic traits have been reported and reproduced, only a minor part of the genetic component of the disease has been explained, and the causative variants and affected genes are unknown for many of the loci.

Summary: Great advances have recently occurred in our understanding of the genetics of T2D, but much remains to be learned about the disease etiology. The genetics of T2D has so far been driven by technology, and we now hope that next-generation sequencing will provide important information on rare variants with stronger effects. Even when variants are known, however, great effort will be required to discover how they affect disease risk.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / genetics*
  • Diet
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Genetic Loci
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Prevalence