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Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2007 Jul;10(4):397-402.

HNF4A genetic variants: role in diabetes.

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  • 1Nutritional Sciences, Endocrinology, Metabolism and Lipid Research, Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.



Variants in the hepatocyte nuclear factor 4alpha (HNF4A) gene play a role in the development of diabetes mellitus. Although genetic variation in and around HNF4A regulatory regions has received considerable attention, the significance of these variants in the common type 2 diabetes varies in the literature. This review will provide a general overview of recent genetic studies involving the evaluation of HNF4A as a contributor to the risk and pathophysiology of diabetes mellitus and related risk factors.


These studies report newly identified variants, evaluate previously reported polymorphisms that were associated with type 2 diabetes in several distinct populations with maturity-onset diabetes of the young, type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, and diabetes related risk factors, and propose a role for HNF4A in insulin secretion via the potassium ATP channel.


HNF4A variants identified so far appear to modestly contribute to predisposition for type 2 diabetes. Continued identification and especially functional characterization of variants, however, will be critical in future studies to enhance our understanding of the metabolic impact of this gene.

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