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Polygenic Prediction of Type 2 Diabetes in Africa

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posted on 11.01.2022, 15:55 by Tinashe Chikowore, Kenneth Ekoru, Marijana Vujkovic, Dipender Gill, Fraser Pirie, Elizabeth Young, Manjinder S Sandhu, Mark McCarthy, Charles Rotimi, Adebowale Adeyemo, Ayesha Motala, Segun Fatumo
Objective. Polygenic prediction of type 2 diabetes in continental Africans is adversely affected by the limited number of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of type 2 diabetes from Africa and the poor transferability of European derived polygenic risk scores (PRS) in diverse ethnicities. We set out to evaluate if African American, European or multi-ethnic derived PRSs would improve polygenic prediction in continental Africans.

Research Design and Methods. Using the PRSice software, ethnic-specific PRSs were computed with weights from the type 2 diabetes GWAS multi-ancestry meta-analysis of 228,499 cases and 1,178,783 controls. The South African Zulu study (1602 cases and 981 controls) was used as the target data set. Validation and assessment of the best predictive PRS association with age at diagnosis was done in the Africa America Diabetes Mellitus (AADM) study (2148 cases and 2161 controls).

Results. The discriminatory ability of the African American and Multi-ethnic PRS were similar. However, the African American derived PRS was more transferable in all the countries represented in the AADM cohort, and predictive of type 2 diabetes in the country combined analysis compared to the European and multi-ethnic derived scores. Notably, participants in the 10th decile of this PRS had a 3.63-fold greater risk (OR 3.63; 95%CI (2.19 - 4.03), p = 2.79 x 10-17) per risk allele of developing diabetes and were diagnosed 2.6 years earlier compared to those in the first decile.

Conclusions African American derived PRS enhances polygenic prediction of type 2 diabetes in continental Africans. Improved representation of non-European populations (including Africans) in GWAS promises to provide better tools for precision medicine interventions in type 2 diabetes.


The AADM study was supported in part by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health in the Centre for Research on Genomics and Global Health (CRGGH). The CRGGH is supported by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the Center for Information Technology, and the Office of the Director at the National Institutes of Health (1ZIAHG200362). Support for participant recruitment and initial genetic studies of the AADM study was provided by NIH grant No. 3T37TW00041-03S2 from the Office of Research on Minority Health.


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