Gene variants associated with risk for type 1 diabetes may also be protective
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine report that gene variants associated with an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes may actually have some beneficial qualities.
Many complex diseases are caused by variants, or areas in a person's DNA code that differ from those in another individual. Some variants may increase the likelihood of developing a certain disease, while others may protect against that condition.
Lead author Erik Corona studied variants associated with a wide variety of diseases, including hypertension, coronary artery disease and type 1 diabetes.
He discovered that 80 variants that are associated with type 1 diabetes have actually been increasing in prevalence. A total of 58 of these variants led to the development of the disease, while 22 were found to have protective qualities.
The team believes that there is an explanation as to why these variants are undergoing positive selection.
"It's possible that in areas of the world where associated triggers for some of these complex conditions are lacking, carriers would experience only the protective effect against some types of infectious disease," said co-investigator Atul Butte. He and his colleagues hope to expand their investigation to look at more variants and diseases.
The findings were published in the August issue of Public Library of Science One