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Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2011 Aug;93 Suppl 1:S9-24. doi: 10.1016/S0168-8227(11)70008-0.

New type 2 diabetes risk genes provide new insights in insulin secretion mechanisms.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetology, Nephrology, Vascular Disease and Clinical Chemistry, University of Tübingen, Germany.


Type 2 diabetes results from the inability of beta cells to increase insulin secretion sufficiently to compensate for insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is thought to result mainly from environmental factors, such as obesity. However, there is compelling evidence that the decline of both insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion have also a genetic component. Recent genome-wide association studies identified several novel risk genes for type 2 diabetes. The vast majority of these genes affect beta cell function by molecular mechanisms that remain unknown in detail. Nevertheless, we and others could show that a group of genes affect glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, a group incretin-stimulated insulin secretion (incretin sensitivity or secretion) and a group proinsulin-to-insulin conversion. The most important so far type 2 diabetes risk gene, TCF7L2, interferes with all three mechanisms. In addition to advancing knowledge in the pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes, the discovery of novel genetic determinants of diabetes susceptibility may help understanding of gene-environment, gene-therapy and gene-gene interactions. It was also hoped that it could make determination of the individual risk for type 2 diabetes feasible. However, the allelic relative risks of most genetic variants discovered so far are relatively low. Thus, at present, clinical criteria assess the risk for type 2 diabetes with greater sensitivity and specificity than the combination of all known genetic variants.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

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