Genetic risk of type 2 diabetes in populations of the African continent: A systematic review and meta-analyses

Yandiswa Y. Yako, Magellan Guewo-Fokeng, Eric V. Balti, Nabila Bouatia-Naji, Tandi E. Matsha, Eugene Sobngwi, Rajiv T. Erasmus, Justin B. Echouffo-Tcheugui, Andre P. Kengne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is growing faster in Africa than anywhere else, driven by the dual effects of genetic and environmental factors. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analyses of published studies on genetic markers of T2D in populations within Africa. Methods: Multiple databases were searched for studies of genetic variants associated with T2D in populations living in Africa. Studies reporting on the association of a genetic marker with T2D or indicators of glycaemia were included. Data were extracted on study design and characteristics, genetic determinants, effect estimates of associations with T2D. Findings: Overall, 100 polymorphisms in 57 genes have been investigated in relation with T2D in populations within Africa, in 60 studies. Almost all studies used the candidate gene approach, with >88% published during 2006-2014 and 70% (42/60) originating from Tunisia and Egypt. Polymorphisms in ACE, AGRP, eNOS, GSTP1, HSP70-2, MC4R, MTHFR, PHLPP, POL1, TCF7L2, and TNF-α gene were found to be associated with T2D, with overlapping effect on various cardiometabolic traits. The polymorphisms investigated in multiple studies mostly had consistent effects across studies, with only modest or no statistical heterogeneity. Effect sizes were modestly significant [e.g., odd ratio 1.49 (95%CI 1.33-1.66) for TCF7L2 (rs7903146)]. Underpowered genome-wide studies revealed no diabetes risk loci specific to African populations. Interpretation: Current evidence on the genetic markers of T2D in African populations mostly originate from North African countries, is overall scanty and largely insufficient to reliably inform the genetic architecture of T2D across Africa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-150
Number of pages15
JournalDiabetes Research and Clinical Practice
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Africa
  • Genetics
  • Type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology

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    Yako, Y. Y., Guewo-Fokeng, M., Balti, E. V., Bouatia-Naji, N., Matsha, T. E., Sobngwi, E., Erasmus, R. T., Echouffo-Tcheugui, J. B., & Kengne, A. P. (2016). Genetic risk of type 2 diabetes in populations of the African continent: A systematic review and meta-analyses. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, 114, 136-150.