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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2014 Aug 21;55(9):6041-5. doi: 10.1167/iovs.14-15044.

Native American ancestry is associated with severe diabetic retinopathy in Latinos.

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Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States.
Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, United States.
USC Eye Institute, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, United States.
Institute for Translational Genomics and Population Sciences, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA, Torrance, California, United States.



Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a leading cause of blindness in working age adults. Studies have observed that Latinos have a higher prevalence of DR than whites. The purpose of this study is to test the association between genetic admixture and severe DR in Latinos with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).


We conducted a case-control study using 944 T2DM subjects from the Los Angeles Latino Eye Study. Cases (n = 135) were defined as proliferative or severe nonproliferative DR subjects. Controls (n = 809) were other diabetic subjects in the cohort. Genotyping was performed on the Illumina OmniExpress BeadChip. We estimated genetic ancestry in Latinos using STRUCTURE with the HapMap reference panels. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to test the relationship between the proportions of genetic ancestry and severe DR.


Native American ancestry (NAA) in Latino T2DM subjects is associated significantly with severe DR (P = 0.002). The association remained significant (P = 0.005) after adjusting for age, sex, duration of diabetes, hemoglobin A1c, body mass index, systolic blood pressure, education, and income. We also validated the NAA estimates in Latinos using ADMIXTURE with the 1000 Genomes Project reference panels and obtained consistent results.


Our results demonstrate for the first time to our knowledge that NAA is a significant risk factor for severe DR in Latinos.


Latinos; Native American; diabetic retinopathy; genetic ancestry

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