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Neurocognitive impairment in type 2 diabetes: evidence for shared genetic aetiology (published online 04/02/2020)

Josephine Mollon, Joanne E. Curran, Samuel R. Mathias, Emma E. M. Knowles, Phoebe Carlisle, Peter T. Fox, Rene L. Olvera, Harald H. H. Göring, Amanda Rodrigue, Laura Almasy, Ravi Duggirala, John Blangero, David C. Glahn

Type 2 diabetes is associated with cognitive impairment, but it is unclear whether common genetic factors influence both type 2 diabetes risk and cognitive impairment. In this issue, using two quantitative methods for genetic analysis, Mollon et al (https://doi.org/10.1007/s00125-020-05101-y) found evidence for pleiotropy between type 2 diabetes and cognitive impairment. Using one approach, negative genetic correlations between type 2 diabetes and performance in measures of attention, working memory and face memory suggested genetic overlap between type 2 diabetes risk and poor performance in these cognitive domains. Similar results were obtained using the second approach, such that performance in these cognitive domains was lowest in individuals with type 2 diabetes, highest in individuals who were unaffected/unrelated to an affected individual and intermediate in those related to an individual with type 2 diabetes. The authors conclude that these findings suggest that cognitive impairment is genetically related to type 2 diabetes and may, therefore, be useful in elucidating the biological underpinnings of this disease.

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