Background: Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified genetic factors in type 2 diabetes (T2D), mostly among individuals of European ancestry. We tested whether previously identified 2D-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) replicate and whether SNPs in regions near known T2D SNPs were associated with T2D within the Singapore Chinese Health Study.
Methods: 2338 cases and 2339 T2D controls from the Singapore Chinese Health Study were genotyped for 507,509 SNPs. Imputation extended the genotyped SNPs to 7,514,461 with high estimated certainty (r2 .0.8). Replication of known index SNP associations in T2D was attempted. Risk scores were computed as the sum of index risk alleles. SNPs in regions 6100 kb around each index were tested for associations with T2D in conditional fine-mapping analysis.
Results: Of 69 index SNPs, 20 were genotyped directly and genotypes at 35 others were well imputed. Among the 55 SNPs with data, disease associations were replicated (at p,0.05) for 15 SNPs, while 32 more were directionally consistent with previous reports. Risk score was a significant predictor with a 2.03 fold higher risk CI (1.69–2.44) of T2D comparing the highest to lowest quintile of risk allele burden (p = 5.72610214). Two improved SNPs around index rs10923931 and 5 new candidate SNPs around indices rs10965250 and rs1111875 passed simple Bonferroni corrections for significance in conditional analysis. Nonetheless, only a small fraction (2.3% on the disease liability scale) of T2D burden in Singapore is explained by these SNPs.
Conclusions: While diabetes risk in Singapore Chinese involves genetic variants, most disease risk remains unexplained. Further genetic work is ongoing in the Singapore Chinese population to identify unique common variants not already seen in earlier studies. However rapid increases in T2D risk have occurred in recent decades in this population, indicating that dynamic environmental influences and possibly gene by environment interactions complicate the genetic architecture of this disease.