Multi-ancestry genome-wide study in >2.5 million individuals reveals heterogeneity in mechanistic pathways of type 2 diabetes and complications

medRxiv [Preprint]. 2023 Mar 31:2023.03.31.23287839. doi: 10.1101/2023.03.31.23287839.


Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a heterogeneous disease that develops through diverse pathophysiological processes. To characterise the genetic contribution to these processes across ancestry groups, we aggregate genome-wide association study (GWAS) data from 2,535,601 individuals (39.7% non-European ancestry), including 428,452 T2D cases. We identify 1,289 independent association signals at genome-wide significance (P<5×10-8) that map to 611 loci, of which 145 loci are previously unreported. We define eight non-overlapping clusters of T2D signals characterised by distinct profiles of cardiometabolic trait associations. These clusters are differentially enriched for cell-type specific regions of open chromatin, including pancreatic islets, adipocytes, endothelial, and enteroendocrine cells. We build cluster-specific partitioned genetic risk scores (GRS) in an additional 137,559 individuals of diverse ancestry, including 10,159 T2D cases, and test their association with T2D-related vascular outcomes. Cluster-specific partitioned GRS are more strongly associated with coronary artery disease and end-stage diabetic nephropathy than an overall T2D GRS across ancestry groups, highlighting the importance of obesity-related processes in the development of vascular outcomes. Our findings demonstrate the value of integrating multi-ancestry GWAS with single-cell epigenomics to disentangle the aetiological heterogeneity driving the development and progression of T2D, which may offer a route to optimise global access to genetically-informed diabetes care.

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  • Preprint