First Genome-Wide Association Study for Type 2 Diabetes in Youth Findings

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By : dLife Editors

Researchers have discovered seven genetic variants associated with Type 2 diabetes in youth in the First Genome-Wide Association Study for Type 2 diabetes in young people.

Six of the genetic variants have been associated with Type 2 diabetes in adults, and one of them seems to be novel to youth.

Some of the variants were related to obesity, contributing to the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in younger people, with the effect sizes likely larger than what is observed in adults.

The genome-wide association study used data from the Progress in Diabetes Genetics in Youth (ProDiGY) Consortium, a collaboration of TODAY, SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth and T2D-GENES study groups.

“This study implies that the genetic basis for youth-onset Type 2 diabetes is polygenic as in adults, but there may be unique genes involved in youth-onset Type 2 diabetes,” Dr. Rose Gubitosi-Klug, chief, pediatric endocrinology at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital tells dLife.

“Thus, youth-onset Type 2 diabetes may be different in the underlying factors leading to disease and, perhaps, the overall course and treatment of this disease compared to adult-onset Type 2 diabetes,” she says.

Klug explains that youth-onset Type 2 diabetes tends to be more aggressive than adult Type 2 diabetes, and learning more about which gene variants are involved will help researchers find targets for potential treatments.

While Klug says additional studies are warranted, she says a long-term goal is 1) to determine a high-risk genetic profile to allow earlier identification of individuals and 2) to identify potential new targets for treatment.

She adds while the participating studies included individuals of diverse ethnicities, further studies to confirm and verify this finding are also needed.

The study involved an analysis of 3006 cases of youth at a median age of 15.1 (+/-2.9) years of age, 62 percent female, 22 percent white, 36 percent African American, 42 percent Hispanic.

ProDiGY has established a cohort of pediatric Type 2 diabetes cases that serves as a valuable resource for future genetic investigations.

The findings were presented and discussed in an endocrinology session for basic and translational research at the Pediatric Academic Society Conference (April 24 – May 1 in Baltimore, M.D.).

Study author affiliations can be viewed in the study abstract.

The TODAY study was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health.

University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center.

Feature Image Courtesy: University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. Copyright Keith Berr Productions, Inc.


  1. University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. First genome-wide association study (GWAS) for Type 2 diabetes in youth findings. (2019, April 29) EurekAlert! Retrieved: