African ancestry and its correlation to type 2 diabetes in african americans: A genetic admixture analysis in three U.S. population cohorts

Ching Yu Cheng, David Reich, Christopher A. Haiman, Arti Tandon, Nick Patterson, Selvin Elizabeth, Ermeg L. Akylbekova, Frederick Louis Brancati, Josef Coresh, Eric Boerwinkle, David Altshuler, Herman A. Taylor, Brian E. Henderson, James G. Wilson, Wen-Hong Linda Kao

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53 Scopus citations


The risk of type 2 diabetes is approximately 2-fold higher in African Americans than in European Americans even after adjusting for known environmental risk factors, including socioeconomic status (SES), suggesting that genetic factors may explain some of this population difference in disease risk. However, relatively few genetic studies have examined this hypothesis in a large sample of African Americans with and without diabetes. Therefore, we performed an admixture analysis using 2,189 ancestry-informative markers in 7,021 African Americans (2,373 with type 2 diabetes and 4,648 without) from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, the Jackson Heart Study, and the Multiethnic Cohort to 1) determine the association of type 2 diabetes and its related quantitative traits with African ancestry controlling for measures of SES and 2) identify genetic loci for type 2 diabetes through a genome-wide admixture mapping scan. The median percentage of African ancestry of diabetic participants was slightly greater than that of non-diabetic participants (study-adjusted difference = 1.6%, P<0.001). The odds ratio for diabetes comparing participants in the highest vs. lowest tertile of African ancestry was 1.33 (95% confidence interval 1.13-1.55), after adjustment for age, sex, study, body mass index (BMI), and SES. Admixture scans identified two potential loci for diabetes at 12p13.31 (LOD = 4.0) and 13q14.3 (Z score = 4.5, P = 6.6×10 -6). In conclusion, genetic ancestry has a significant association with type 2 diabetes above and beyond its association with non-genetic risk factors for type 2 diabetes in African Americans, but no single gene with a major effect is sufficient to explain a large portion of the observed population difference in risk of diabetes. There undoubtedly is a complex interplay among specific genetic loci and non-genetic factors, which may both be associated with overall admixture, leading to the observed ethnic differences in diabetes risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere32840
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 16 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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