, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 211-213
Date: 19 Dec 2007

Mendelian randomisation studies of type 2 diabetes: future prospects

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The integration of principles and procedures underlying population genetics and epidemiology provides a potential research framework to make causal inferences about the association between a risk factor and disease [1, 2]. In an epidemiological context, numerous biomarkers have been linked to the development of type 2 diabetes. In this issue of Diabetologia, Herder and colleagues assess the prospective association between circulating levels of macrophage migration inhibitory factor and risk of type 2 diabetes [3]. Their results provide suggestive statistical evidence for a sex-specific association between this biomarker and risk of type 2 diabetes. This observation is consistent with the current paradigm that inflammation plays a role in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes [4].

The association might be causal. Alternatively, given the observational nature of epidemiological research, it may also be completely explained by confounding. In this scenario, the relatio ...