, Volume 55, Issue 10, pp 2555-2558
Date: 11 Aug 2012

Genetic risk scores ascertained in early adulthood and the prediction of type 2 diabetes later in life


It is hoped that information garnered from studies on population genetics will one day be translated into a form in which it meaningfully improves the prediction, prevention or treatment of type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes genetics researchers have made extraordinary progress in identifying common genetic variants that are associated with type 2 diabetes, which has shed light on the biological pathways in which molecular defects that cause the disease likely reside. However, the expectation that genetic discoveries will aid the prevention or treatment of type 2 diabetes has not, so far, been fulfilled. In a paper published in this edition of the journal, Vassy and colleagues (DOI: 10.1007/s00125-012-2637-7) test the hypothesis that the predictive accuracy of established genetic risk markers for type 2 diabetes varies by age, with the predictive accuracy being greatest in younger cohorts. The authors found no substantive support for this hypothesis. However, a number of interesting questions are raised by their study concerning why risk alleles for a given genotype may differ in younger and older cohorts and why prospective cohort studies may yield results that are inconsistent with those derived from cross-sectional studies; this commentary discusses these points.