(HealthDay News) — A genetic risk score can distinguish type 1 diabetes from type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in Diabetes Care.

Richard A. Oram, PhD, from the University of Exeter Medical School in the United Kingdom, and colleagues developed genetic risk scores from published type 1 diabetes- and type 2 diabetes-associated variants. 

They tested the scores to see whether they could differentiate clinically defined type 1 and type 2 diabetes from 3887 participants from the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium (WTCCC). They then examined whether type 1 diabetes genetic risk score (including 30 variants) could correctly classify young adults (aged 20 to 40 years) who progressed to severe insulin deficiency within 3 years of diagnosis (223 young adults).

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The researchers found that type 1 diabetes genetic risk score was highly discriminative of type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes in the WTCCC (area under the curve [AUC]=0.88; P<.0001) and that little discrimination was added with type 2 diabetes (AUC=0.89). 

A GRS >0.280 had 5% sensitivity and 95% specificity for type 1 diabetes. A low type 1 diabetes genetic risk score (<0.234) had 53% sensitivity and 95% specificity for type 2 diabetes. Most of the discriminative ability came from 9 single nucleotide polymorphisms (AUC=0.87). 

Type 1 diabetes genetic risk score alone predicted progression to insulin deficiency in young adults with diabetes (AUC=0.87).

“This will be an important addition to correctly classifying individuals with diabetes when clinical features and autoimmune markers are equivocal,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Oram RA, Patel K, Hill A, et al. A Type 1 Diabetes Genetic Risk Score Can Aid Discrimination Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes in Young Adults. Diabetes Care. 2015;doi:10.2337/dc15-1111.