Context: The KCNJ11 E23K variant is associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in cross-sectional studies, but conflicting findings have been reported from prospective studies.
Objective: This study aimed to evaluate whether the E23K variant could predict glycaemic progression in a Southern Chinese population.
Methods/principal findings: We performed a long-term prospective study on 1912 subjects from the Hong Kong Cardiovascular Risk Factors Prevalence Study (CRISPS). The KCNJ11 E23K variant was associated with the progression to prediabetes after a median interval of 12 years on multinomial logistic regression analysis, even after adjustment for traditional risk factors (OR 1.29, P(age, sex, BMI and fasting plasma glucose [FPG] adjusted) = 0.02). Based on Cox proportional hazard regression analysis, the E23K variant also predicted incident prediabetes (HR 1.18, P(age, sex, BMI and FPG adjusted)= 0.021). However, E23K was not associated with the progression to T2DM in either multinomial or Cox regression analysis, and the association of E23K with glycaemic progression to either prediabetes or T2DM was significant only in unadjusted Cox regression analysis (P = 0.039). In a meta-analysis of eight prospective studies including our own, involving 15680 subjects, the E23K variant was associated with incident T2DM (fixed effect: OR 1.10, P = 4×10(-3); random effect: OR 1.11, P = 0.035).
Conclusions: Our study has provided supporting evidence for the role of the E23K variant in glycaemic progression in Chinese, with its effect being more evident in the early stage of T2DM, as the subjects progressed from normal glucose tolerance to prediabetes.