Pharmacogenetics: Potential role in the treatment of diabetes and obesity

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9 Scopus citations


Background: Common genetic variation is associated with increased risk of common metabolic diseases such as type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Increasing experience with genetic association studies has led to an understanding of the large sample sizes required to detect a weak to moderate genetic predisposition to disease, the need to reproduce such associations in independent cohorts, and the statistical criteria required to detect a true association. This approach has been used successfully to identify disease-associated gene variation usually in representative populations of large numbers. Objective: To review the current understanding of how common genetic variation influences predisposition to, and treatment of, metabolic disease. Methodology: Review of scientific literature. Results: While there has been progress in understanding how genetic variation predisposes to diabetes and obesity, and how candidate genes may alter drug response, several caveats limit the interpretation and significance of pharmacogenetic studies published to date: those caveats typically include relatively small numbers of participants and choice of endpoints in determining gene-associated differences in response, which may not be clinically significant or relevant as a biomarker or predictor of a desired clinical effect. The genetic variants studied at a given locus are often limited in number and may not represent a comprehensive map of the region under study. Conclusions: The pharmacogenetic associations in diabetes and obesity that have been reported to date have had limited impact on the choice of individual treatments. We perceive, however, that this field is in its infancy in these multifactorial metabolic diseases, and with further advances and future drug intervention trials designed in a way that allows a more clear interpretation of the impact of genetic variation on differences in drug response in obesity and diabetes, it is anticipated that pharmacogenetics will have a significant impact on individualizing medical care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1109-1119
Number of pages11
JournalExpert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy
Issue number7
StatePublished - May 2008


  • Common genetic variation
  • Glucagon-like peptide-1
  • Obesity
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Sulfonylureas
  • Thiazolidinediones
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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