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Is Diabetes in Your Genes?

The global prevalence of diabetes has increased from 4.7% in 1980 to 8.5% in 2014 which is concerning. Across the U.S population 1.4 million people are diagnosed with diabetes every year. Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is the most common, which is when your blood sugar levels rise higher than normal. Diabetes is a chronic disease related to insulin resistance where eventually your pancreas isn’t able to keep up in making enough insulin to sustain your blood sugar at normal levels.

With the rise in prevalence for T2D, it is good to know what the contributing factors are that can put you at risk. Genetics, environmental influences, lifestyle choices and stress all play a role in the development of T2D.

How are genetics a factor? Typically those with diabetes inherit a predisposition, which is then triggered by something in their environment. There is ongoing research in the realm of chronic disease and genetics, however scientists have linked several gene mutations to an increased risk of T2D. It is important to note that just because you carry a mutation doesn’t mean you will get diabetes, but many diagnosed thus far have one or more of these mutations. Knowing if you have a mutation can also help you to be more vigilant with disease monitoring and making proactive lifestyle choices that can help mitigate risk.

What are the genes associated with T2D? Generally speaking mutations in genes related to glucose regulation can affect your risk. The Genomics Wide Association study (GWAS) has identified 65 different positions where single nucleotide sequences differ from patients and genes associated with T2D including: TCF7L2, PPARG, FTO, KCNJ11, NOTCH2, WFS1, IGF2BP2, SLC30A8, JAZF1, HHEX, DGKB, CDKN2A, CDKN2B, KCNQ1, HNF1A, HNF1B MC4R, GIPR, HNF4A, MTNR1B, PARG6, ZBED3, SLC30A8, CDKAL1, GLIS3 and GCKR.

Additionally, research has found that if one identical twin has type 1 diabetes, the other twin will get the disease about 50 percent of the time. With T2D, the risk increases to as much as 80 percent. In both types identical twins have a much higher risk of developing diabetes than fraternal twins, which validates that genetics is a factor.

Next steps…

To understand if you are predisposed to developing T2D you can explore genetic testing. Ask your healthcare provider about taking a genetic test to gain insight into what your genes are saying. By understanding your genetic predisposition early on there is more hope for prevention by making lifestyle changes that may decrease your risk.


References

  1. Dean L, McEntyre J. The Genetic Landscape of Diabetes [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Center for Biotechnology Information (US); 2004.
  2. Rathmann W, Scheidt-Nave C, Roden M, Herder C. Type 2 Diabetes: Prevalence and Relevance of Genetic and Acquired Factors for Its Prediction. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International. 2013;110(19):331-337.
  3. Zeggini E, Weedon MN, Lindgren CM, et al. Multiple type 2 diabetes susceptibility genes following genome-wide association scan in UK samples.Science (New York, NY). 2007;316(5829):1336-1341.
  4. Van Hoek M, Dehghan A, Witteman JCM, et al. Predicting Type 2 Diabetes Based on Polymorphisms From Genome-Wide Association Studies : A Population-Based Study. Diabetes. 2008;57(11):3122-3128.
  5. Herder, C; Roden, M (Jun 2011). “Genetics of type 2 diabetes: pathophysiologic and clinical relevance.”. European journal of clinical investigation. 41 (6): 679–92.
  6. Gaulton KJ, Ferreira T, Lee Y, et al. Genetic fine-mapping and genomic annotation defines causal mechanisms at type 2 diabetes susceptibility loci.Nature genetics. 2015;47(12):1415-1425.
  7. American Diabetes Association
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  9. World Health Organization (WHO)