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Glycemic traits are used to diagnose and monitor type 2 diabetes and cardiometabolic health. To date, most genetic studies of glycemic traits have focused on individuals of European ancestry. Here we aggregated genome-wide association studies comprising up to 281,416 individuals without diabetes (30% non-European ancestry) for whom fasting glucose, 2-h glucose after an oral glucose challenge, glycated hemoglobin and fasting insulin data were available. Trans-ancestry and single-ancestry meta-analyses identified 242 loci (99 novel; P -8), 80% of which had no significant evidence of between-ancestry heterogeneity. Analyses restricted to individuals of European ancestry with equivalent sample size would have led to 24 fewer new loci. Compared with single-ancestry analyses, equivalent-sized trans-ancestry fine-mapping reduced the number of estimated variants in 99% credible sets by a median of 37.5%. Genomic-feature, gene-expression and gene-set analyses revealed distinct biological signatures for each trait, highlighting different underlying biological pathways. Our results increase our understanding of diabetes pathophysiology by using trans-ancestry studies for improved power and resolution.

Original publication




Journal article


Nature genetics

Publication Date





840 - 860


Exeter Centre of Excellence for Diabetes Research (EXCEED), Genetics of Complex Traits, University of Exeter Medical School, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK.


Lifelines Cohort Study, Meta-Analysis of Glucose and Insulin-related Traits Consortium (MAGIC), Humans, Blood Glucose, Physical Chromosome Mapping, Gene Expression Profiling, Epigenesis, Genetic, Multifactorial Inheritance, Quantitative Trait, Heritable, Alleles, Quantitative Trait Loci, Genome, Human, Genome-Wide Association Study, Glycated Hemoglobin A, Whites