, Volume 52, Issue 8, pp 1528-1536
Date: 13 Jun 2009

Strong association of socioeconomic status with genetic ancestry in Latinos: implications for admixture studies of type 2 diabetes



Type 2 diabetes is more prevalent in US American minority populations of African or Native American descent than it is in European Americans. However, the proportion of this epidemiological difference that can be ascribed to genetic or environmental factors is unknown. To determine whether genetic ancestry is correlated with diabetes risk in Latinos, we estimated the proportion of European ancestry in case–control samples from Mexico and Colombia in whom socioeconomic status had been carefully ascertained.


We genotyped 67 ancestry-informative markers in 499 participants with type 2 diabetes and 197 controls from Medellín (Colombia), as well as in 163 participants with type 2 diabetes and 72 controls from central Mexico. Each participant was assigned a socioeconomic status scale via various measures.


Although European ancestry was associated with lower diabetes risk in Mexicans (OR [95% CI] 0.06 [0.02–0.21], p = 2.0 × 10−5) and Colombians (OR 0.26 [0.08–0.78], p = 0.02), adjustment for socioeconomic status eliminated the association in the Colombian sample (OR 0.64 [0.19–2.12], p = 0.46) and significantly attenuated it in the Mexican sample (OR 0.17 [0.04–0.71], p = 0.02). Adjustment for BMI did not change the results.


The proportion of non-European ancestry is associated with both type 2 diabetes and lower socioeconomic status in admixed Latino populations from North and South America. We conclude that ancestry-directed search for genetic markers associated with type 2 diabetes in Latinos may benefit from information involving social factors, as these factors have a quantitatively important effect on type 2 diabetes risk relative to ancestry effects.

J. C. Florez and A. L. Price contributed equally to this work.
M. T. Tusié-Luna, A. Ruiz-Linares and D. Reich co-directed the study.