Do These Genes Make Me Look Diabetic? Using a Polygenic Risk Score to Predict Incident Diabetes in the Health and Retirement Study

Carmen Ng , Emory University
Jordan Weiss, University of Pennsylvania

To date, studies have identified a wide-range of risk factors for diabetes, but less is known about how these characteristics combine with genetic endowment to shape one’s risk of diabetes. We investigate the contribution of a diabetes polygenic risk score (PGS) in the Health and Retirement Study using multivariate Cox regression models stratified by race (non-Hispanic white and black) with time-varying covariates. We observed 4,217 (27.76%) cases of incident diabetes over the survey period. The diabetes PGS was statistically significantly associated with diabetes onset for both race groups, even after adjusting for a range of known risk factors for diabetes, highlighting the critical role genetic endowment might play. However, genetics do not downplay the role that modifiable characteristics could still play in diabetes management; even with the inclusion of the diabetes PGS, several behavioral and lifestyle characteristics remained significant for both race groups.

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 Presented in Session 34. Biodemography, Health, and Mortality