Application of a Genetic Risk Score to Racially Diverse Type 1 Diabetes Populations Demonstrates the Need for Diversity in Risk-Modeling

Sci Rep. 2018 Mar 14;8(1):4529. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-22574-5.


Prior studies identified HLA class-II and 57 additional loci as contributors to genetic susceptibility for type 1 diabetes (T1D). We hypothesized that race and/or ethnicity would be contextually important for evaluating genetic risk markers previously identified from Caucasian/European cohorts. We determined the capacity for a combined genetic risk score (GRS) to discriminate disease-risk subgroups in a racially and ethnically diverse cohort from the southeastern U.S. including 637 T1D patients, 46 at-risk relatives having two or more T1D-related autoantibodies (≥2AAb+), 790 first-degree relatives (≤1AAb+), 68 second-degree relatives (≤1 AAb+), and 405 controls. GRS was higher among Caucasian T1D and at-risk subjects versus ≤ 1AAb+ relatives or controls (P < 0.001). GRS receiver operating characteristic AUC (AUROC) for T1D versus controls was 0.86 (P < 0.001, specificity = 73.9%, sensitivity = 83.3%) among all Caucasian subjects and 0.90 for Hispanic Caucasians (P < 0.001, specificity = 86.5%, sensitivity = 84.4%). Age-at-diagnosis negatively correlated with GRS (P < 0.001) and associated with HLA-DR3/DR4 diplotype. Conversely, GRS was less robust (AUROC = 0.75) and did not correlate with age-of-diagnosis for African Americans. Our findings confirm GRS should be further used in Caucasian populations to assign T1D risk for clinical trials designed for biomarker identification and development of personalized treatment strategies. We also highlight the need to develop a GRS model that accommodates racial diversity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autoantibodies / blood*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / ethnology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / genetics*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / immunology
  • Female
  • Florida / ethnology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genetics, Population
  • HLA-DQ Antigens / genetics
  • HLA-DR3 Antigen / genetics*
  • HLA-DR4 Antigen / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Theoretical
  • ROC Curve
  • Risk Assessment
  • Young Adult


  • Autoantibodies
  • HLA-DQ Antigens
  • HLA-DR3 Antigen
  • HLA-DR4 Antigen