Type 2 Diabetes Genetics: Beyond GWAS

J Diabetes Metab. 2012 Jun 23;3(198):6948. doi: 10.4172/2155-6156.1000198.


The global epidemic of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) is one of the most challenging problems of the 21(st) century leading cause of and the fifth death worldwide. Substantial evidence suggests that T2D is a multifactorial disease with a strong genetic component. Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have successfully identified and replicated nearly 75 susceptibility loci associated with T2D and related metabolic traits, mostly in Europeans, and some in African, and South Asian populations. The GWAS serve as a starting point for future genetic and functional studies since the mechanisms of action by which these associated loci influence disease is still unclear and it is difficult to predict potential implication of these findings in clinical settings. Despite extensive replication, no study has unequivocally demonstrated their clinical role in the disease management beyond progression to T2D from impaired glucose tolerance. However, these studies are revealing new molecular pathways underlying diabetes etiology, gene-environment interactions, epigenetic modifications, and gene function. This review highlights evolving progress made in the rapidly moving field of T2D genetics that is starting to unravel the pathophysiology of a complex phenotype and has potential to show clinical relevance in the near future.