Effect of tissue-grouped regulatory variants associated to type 2 diabetes in related secondary outcomes

Daiane Hemerich, Roelof A.J. Smit, Michael Preuss, Lauren Stalbow, Sander W. van der Laan, Folkert W. Asselbergs, Jessica van Setten, Vinicius Tragante

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Genome-wide association studies have identified over five hundred loci that contribute to variation in type 2 diabetes (T2D), an established risk factor for many diseases. However, the mechanisms and extent through which these loci contribute to subsequent outcomes remain elusive. We hypothesized that combinations of T2D-associated variants acting on tissue-specific regulatory elements might account for greater risk for tissue-specific outcomes, leading to diversity in T2D disease progression. We searched for T2D-associated variants acting on regulatory elements and expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) in nine tissues. We used T2D tissue-grouped variant sets as genetic instruments to conduct 2-Sample Mendelian Randomization (MR) in ten related outcomes whose risk is increased by T2D using the FinnGen cohort. We performed PheWAS analysis to investigate whether the T2D tissue-grouped variant sets had specific predicted disease signatures. We identified an average of 176 variants acting in nine tissues implicated in T2D, and an average of 30 variants acting on regulatory elements that are unique to the nine tissues of interest. In 2-Sample MR analyses, all subsets of regulatory variants acting in different tissues were associated with increased risk of the ten secondary outcomes studied on similar levels. No tissue-grouped variant set was associated with an outcome significantly more than other tissue-grouped variant sets. We did not identify different disease progression profiles based on tissue-specific regulatory and transcriptome information. Bigger sample sizes and other layers of regulatory information in critical tissues may help identify subsets of T2D variants that are implicated in certain secondary outcomes, uncovering system-specific disease progression.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3579
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


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