Pediatric researchers have found that a gene already implicated in the development of type 2 diabetes in adults also raises the risk of being overweight during childhood. The finding sheds light on the genetic origins of diabetes and may present an avenue for developing drugs to counteract the disease, which has been on the upswing in childhood and adolescence.
Researchers from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine published the study Nov. 23 in the online version of the journal Diabetes.
"It has been a bit of a mystery to scientists how or even if these adult diabetes genes function during childhood," said study leader Struan F.A. Grant, Ph.D., a researcher and associate director of the Center for Applied Genomics of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "This finding suggests that there may be genetic activity during childhood that lays the foundation for the later development of type 2 diabetes."
Type 2 diabetes occurs either when the pancreas produces too little insulin, or when the body cannot efficiently use the insulin that is produced because the cells have become resistant. Formerly called adult-onset diabetes and still most common in adults, type 2 diabetes has been increasing sharply among children and teenagers.
Grant and study co-leader Hakon Hakonarson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Applied Genomics at Children's Hospital, investigated 20 gene variants, known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), previously reported to be associated with type 2 diabetes. The researchers drew on a cohort of nearly 7,200 Caucasian children, aged 2 to 18 years, in an ongoing genome-wide association study of childhood obesity at Children's Hospital. Dividing the cohort randomly in half allowed the team to follow their discovery study with a replication study.
Researchers continue to unravel the complicated role of different diabetes-related
|Contact: John Ascenzi|
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia