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Polynesian Ancestry May Increase Cardiometabolic Risk

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 24, 2021 -- Polynesian ancestry in Native Hawaiians seems to be associated with an increased risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart failure, according to a study published online Feb. 11 in PLOS Genetics.

Hanxiao Sun, from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and colleagues used genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphism array data for about 4,000 Native Hawaiians from the Multiethnic Cohort to study genetic factors at both the chromosomal and subchromosomal scales.

The researchers found that per 10 percent increase in global Polynesian genetic ancestry, there was an 8.6 and 11.0 percent increase in the odds of diabetes and heart failure, respectively, and a 0.059 standard deviation increase in body mass index after attempting to adjust for nongenetic covariates. A chr6 region associated with type 2 diabetes was identified when testing the association of local Polynesian ancestry with the risk for disease or biomarkers. In individuals of Polynesian ancestry, this association was driven by a uniquely prevalent variant. However, in an independent Polynesian cohort from Samoa, this association could not be replicated due to the small size of the replication cohort.

"Our results suggest future studies could identify population-specific genetic susceptibility factors that may elucidate underlying biological mechanisms and [reduce] the disparity in disease risks in Polynesian populations," the authors write.

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