Type 2 diabetes (T2D) affects millions of people worldwide. Improving the understanding of the underlying mechanisms and ultimately improving the treatment strategies are, thus, of great interest. To achieve this, identification of genetic variation predisposing to T2D is important. A large number of variants have been identified in large outbred populations, mainly from Europe and Asia. However, to elucidate additional variation, isolated populations have a number of advantageous properties, including increased amounts of linkage disequilibrium, and increased probability for presence of high frequency disease-associated variants due to genetic drift. Collectively, this increases the statistical power to detect association signals in isolated populations compared to large outbred populations. In this review, we elaborate on why isolated populations are a powerful resource for the identification of complex disease variants and describe their contributions to the understanding of the genetics of T2D.
Keywords: Genetic drift; Genome-wide association study; Isolated populations; Linkage disequilibrium; Statistical power; Type 2 diabetes.