Compared to the successful probing of genetic causes of monogenic disorders, dissecting the genetics of complex polygenic diseases has until recently been a fairly slow and cumbersome process. With the introduction of whole genome wide association studies (WGAS) the situation dramatically changed in 2007. The results from several recent WGAS on type 2 diabetes (T2D) and obesity have identified at least eighteen genes consistently associated with T2D. Many of the genes implicate pancreatic beta-cell function in the pathogenesis of T2D whereas only one clearly associate with insulin resistance. The identified genes most likely merely represent the tip of the iceberg in the explanation behind T2D. Refined tools will have to provide a more complete picture of the genetic complexity of T2D over the next few years. In addition to common variants increasing susceptibility for the disease, rare variants with stronger effects, copy number variations, and epigenetic effects like DNA methylation and histone acetylation will become important. Nevertheless, today we are able for the first time to anticipate that the genetics of a complex disease like T2D really can be dissected.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Endocrinology and Diabetes