Washington, August 13 : Researchers have identified 38 new genetic regions that are associated with glucose and insulin levels in the blood, using a technology that is 100 times more powerful than previous techniques used to follow-up on genome-wide association results.
This brings the total number of genetic regions associated with glucose and insulin levels to 53, over half of which are associated with type 2 diabetes.
The powerful technology, Metabochip, was designed as a cost-effective way to find and map genomic regions for a range of cardiovascular and metabolic characteristics on a large scale.
Previous approaches were not cost effective and tested only 30-40 DNA sequence variations, but this chip allowed researchers to look at up to 200,000DNA sequence variations for many different traits at one time. The team hoped to find new variants influencing blood glucose and insulin traits and to identify pathways involved in the regulation of insulin and glucose levels.
"We wanted to use this improved Metabochip technology to see whether we could find additional genomic associations that may have been previously missed," said Dr Claudia Langenberg, co-lead author from the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit, Cambridge.
"Our earlier work identified 23 genetic regions associated with blood glucose levels, highlighting important biological pathways involved in the regulation of glucose. At that stage, and before the design of the Metabochip, we were still limited by our capacity to quickly follow-up and afford parallel genotyping of promising, but unconfirmed genetic regions associated with glucose levels in many different studies across the world," she explained.
The team combined data from new samples typed on the Metabochip with data from a previous study to discover genetic regions associated with blood glucose and insulin levels. They identified 38 previously unknown regions for three different quantitative traits associated with blood glucose levels; fasting glucose concentrations, fasting insulin concentrations and post-challenge glucose concentrations.
The team also found many more, less significant, genetic regions that may be associated with blood glucose and insulin levels but currently don''t have the available data to definitively establish them as genome-wide significant.
This supports previous evidence that there is a long tail of many other genetic regions that add up to quite small genetic effects but may increase the risk of such diseases as diabetes.
Collectively, these less significant associations may represent important blood glucose and insulin level associations. (ANI)