The trans-ancestral genomic architecture of glycemic traits

LifeLines Cohort Study, The Meta-Analysis of Glucose and Insulin-related Traits Consortium (MAGIC)

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193 Citations (Scopus)


Glycemic traits are used to diagnose and monitor type 2 diabetes and cardiometabolic health. To date, most genetic studies of glycemic traits have focused on individuals of European ancestry. Here we aggregated genome-wide association studies comprising up to 281,416 individuals without diabetes (30% non-European ancestry) for whom fasting glucose, 2-h glucose after an oral glucose challenge, glycated hemoglobin and fasting insulin data were available. Trans-ancestry and single-ancestry meta-analyses identified 242 loci (99 novel; P < 5 x 10(-8)), 80% of which had no significant evidence of between-ancestry heterogeneity. Analyses restricted to individuals of European ancestry with equivalent sample size would have led to 24 fewer new loci. Compared with single-ancestry analyses, equivalent-sized trans-ancestry fine-mapping reduced the number of estimated variants in 99% credible sets by a median of 37.5%. Genomic-feature, gene-expression and gene-set analyses revealed distinct biological signatures for each trait, highlighting different underlying biological pathways. Our results increase our understanding of diabetes pathophysiology by using trans-ancestry studies for improved power and resolution.

A trans-ancestry meta-analysis of GWAS of glycemic traits in up to 281,416 individuals identifies 99 novel loci, of which one quarter was found due to the multi-ancestry approach, which also improves fine-mapping of credible variant sets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)840-860
Number of pages41
JournalNature Genetics
Issue number6
Early online date31 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

We thank all investigators, staff members and study participants for their contribution to all participating studies. The funders had no role in study design, data collection, analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript. The authors received no specific funding for this work. A full list of funding as well as individual and study acknowledgments appears in the Supplementary Note.


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