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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Arizona Study Finds Genetically High Triglyceride Levels Associated with Protection against Type 2 Diabetes

Researchers at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health found high levels of genetically elevated triglycerides are associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. The study was published recently in PLOS Genetics.

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[Photo: Dr. Yann Klimentidis]

Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood. When you eat, your body converts any calories it doesn’t need to use right away into triglycerides. The triglycerides are stored in fat cells. Too much of this type of fat may raise the risk of many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

An elevated triglyceride level generally is considered a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes. Lead researcher Dr. Yann Klimentidis, an assistant professor who studies genetic epidemiology at the UA Zuckerman College of Public Health, said he decided to study the association between triglyceride-associated genes and type 2 diabetes because his team and another group found evidence suggesting that triglyceride-associated genes paradoxically could be associated with protection against type 2 diabetes.

“In our group, we discovered this hint somewhat serendipitously in a separate large-scale examination of genetic risk for many cardio-metabolic traits. In general, we are using genetics as a tool to gain insight into the etiology of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.”

Building on previous studies that suggest the same association, Dr. Klimentidis and colleagues tested the relationship of triglyceride-associated genetic variants, collectively and individually, with type 2 diabetes incidence across three prospective cohort studies, comprised of 13,247 European Americans and 3,238 African Americans.

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