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IIT-M research teams find protein that increases risk of diabetes in Indians

The study found that 15% of Indian and other South Asian populations had this variation
Last Updated : 31 January 2022, 13:37 IST

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An international research team led by the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, (IIT-M) has identified a gene/protein variant present among Indians and other South Asians that increased their risk of diabetes, heart attack, and hypertension.

The study found that 15 per cent of Indian and other South Asian populations had this variation, people carrying this variant are 1.5 times more likely to have hypertension, Type-2 Diabetes, and coronary artery disease.

“This combination could account for the higher prevalence of metabolic diseases among Indians and other South Asians,” said the study whose results have been published online in the peer-reviewed 'Diabetes', the flagship journal of the American Diabetes Association.

The research was led by Prof Nitish R Mahapatra, Department of Biotechnology, Bhupat and Jyoti Mehta School of Biosciences, IIT-M, while the research was co-authored by several others.

“South Asians are at greater risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Besides environmental factors, our genetic architecture is believed to be responsible for this observation. However, the key genetic variants that enhance our disease risk remain poorly understood. Our study identified one key genetic risk factor for cardio-metabolic diseases,” Prof Mahapatra said.

He said the study has implications in the area of diagnostics and personalised medicine and the research findings may help in identifying individuals (at earlier stages of their lives — much before the onset of the disease — because the genetic makeup mostly remains unchanged throughout the life) who may be susceptible to type 2 diabetes.

“This should be particularly useful for people with a family history of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases for preventive healthcare and better management of disease,” he added.

Pancreastatin is a small part (peptide) of a protein called Chromogranin A (CHGA) found in mammals, including humans. It exerts important physiological effects, mostly with respect to insulin release. It inhibits the release of insulin in the body in response to blood glucose/glucagon and drugs like sulphonylurea, the IIT-M said.

The team had earlier analysed the effect of this genetic variation on cardiovascular and metabolic disease states in a small Indian population (n≈400). They found that variation was associated with higher plasma glucose levels.

“We extended our sample to a larger population (n≈4300) and included people from South and North India. Our research team used a combination of experimental and computational modelling studies to unravel the mechanistic basis for the higher activity of the variant peptide (PST-297S) in comparison to the wild-type peptide (PST-WT) and to account for the higher disease risk in the carriers of the 297Ser allele,” he said.

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Published 31 January 2022, 13:37 IST

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