Objective: Genetic risk scores (GRS) have been developed that differentiate individuals with type 1 diabetes from those with other forms of diabetes and are starting to be used for population screening; however, most studies were conducted in European-ancestry populations. This study identifies novel genetic variants associated with type 1 diabetes risk in African-ancestry participants and develops an African-specific GRS.
Research design and methods: We generated single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data with the ImmunoChip on 1,021 African-ancestry participants with type 1 diabetes and 2,928 control participants. HLA class I and class II alleles were imputed using SNP2HLA. Logistic regression models were used to identify genome-wide significant (P < 5.0 × 10-8) SNPs associated with type 1 diabetes in the African-ancestry samples and validate SNPs associated with risk in known European-ancestry loci (P < 2.79 × 10-5).
Results: African-specific (HLA-DQA1*03:01-HLA-DQB1*02:01) and known European-ancestry HLA haplotypes (HLA-DRB1*03:01-HLA-DQA1*05:01-HLA-DQB1*02:01, HLA-DRB1*04:01-HLA-DQA1*03:01-HLA-DQB1*03:02) were significantly associated with type 1 diabetes risk. Among European-ancestry defined non-HLA risk loci, six risk loci were significantly associated with type 1 diabetes in subjects of African ancestry. An African-specific GRS provided strong prediction of type 1 diabetes risk (area under the curve 0.871), performing significantly better than a European-based GRS and two polygenic risk scores in independent discovery and validation cohorts.
Conclusions: Genetic risk of type 1 diabetes includes ancestry-specific, disease-associated variants. The GRS developed here provides improved prediction of type 1 diabetes in African-ancestry subjects and a means to identify groups of individuals who would benefit from immune monitoring for early detection of islet autoimmunity.
© 2019 by the American Diabetes Association.