A latest study links genetic variants with nine metabolic traits, including diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, etc. among others. This genome-wide study is believed to be the first of its kind to bring out new variants from the general masses unselected for current disease.
A certain group of people, born in 1966 in northern Finland, were studied throughout their life time, in order to accumulate their health related data. This information is beneficial to the researchers for better understanding the complicated root of either genetic or environmental diseases.
They studied the genetic variants of more than 5000 people. They state that the environmental exposure and genetic background of this particular population is relatively homogenous. It’s believed that since this study involves all the people born in that particular year, it reveals the overall structure of the masses.
Paper’s senior author, Professor Leena Peltonen, Head of Human Genetics, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, says, “The power of studies such as ours lies in their ability to examine these traits for early life events, to reflect the genetic make-up of the wider population and to investigate the relationship between genetic variation and environment over time. Our study indicates that the environment accounts for around 30% or less of the consequences of the traits. Clearly we have to increase our efforts to understand the genetic factors involved.”
Samples were taken from these people in order to unveil the variants linked with insulin, triglyceride levels, high and low density lipoproteins, glucose, body mass index, blood pressure and C-reactive protein. Eight so called “environmental” factors like smoking, alcohol use and birth weight were also analyzed. This research is said to be different from previously conducted investigations.
The study authors reveal that they discovered 23 sections of the genome which could be linked with these traits. Nine new variants were also uncovered. Five of these linked variants are HDL with NR1H3 (LXRA), LDL with AR and FADS1/FADS2, glucose with MTNR1B, and insulin with PANK1.
When the team was divided into normal or elevated body index, three regions were found to be linked with insulin or LDL. Another author of the paper says that, the accumulated sample permits them to reflect on the gene-environment interactions. However, in order to be absolutely certain of their results, a bigger group of people need to be studied. It is also stated that this is just the beginning of understanding the process of how modern genetics can collaborate with population information. Also, how this collaboration can aid in unveiling the genes that could in turn later prove to be beneficial for public or clinical health work.
It is stated that in spite of assuming that, genetic influences are responsible for at least half of the variation in these traits; this paper has been able to account for only about one-tenth of that. It’s believed that a lot of information is yet to be discovered.
This study could aid in alerting new public health measures about the link between the root causes of diseases with genetic variants.