Complex genetics of type 2 diabetes: thrifty genes and previously neutral polymorphisms.
Turner RC., Levy JC., Clark A.
Type 2 diabetes is likely to be a polygenic disease, with a combination of major and minor genes affecting obesity, insulin secretion, and insulin action. Amongst these inputs, the 'thrifty genotype' hypothesis is most likely to apply to the predisposition to develop obesity, since the ability to store scarce fuels in periods of starvation could lead to obesity given a western lifestyle. Other genetic variations that were neutral with respect to food deprivation could be harmful with food excess. These could include 'defects' in islet cell function: examples could be mutations in the glucokinase gene and the genetic factors leading to amyloid deposition. The occurrence of associated lipid abnormalities or hypertension is probably due to additional specific genetic determinants that also become exaggerated by a modern lifestyle. The interactions between different genetic and environmental inputs are complex, and will probably be elucidated piecemeal as different genetic determinants are identified.