Young onset diabetes in Asian Indians is associated with lower measured and genetically determined beta-cell function: an INSPIRED study

Moneeza K. Siddiqui (Lead / Corresponding author), Ranjit Mohan Anjana, Adem Y. Dawed, Cyrielle Martoeau, Sundararajan Srinivasan, Jebarani Saravanan, Sathish K. Madanagopa, Alasdair Taylor, Samira Bell, Abirami Veluchamy, Rajendra Pradeepa, Naveed Sattar, Radha Venkatesan, Colin N. A. Palmer, Ewan R. Pearson (Lead / Corresponding author), Viswanathan Mohan

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27 Citations (Scopus)
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Aims/hypothesis: South Asians in general, and Asian Indians in particular, have higher risk of type 2 diabetes compared with white Europeans, and a younger age of onset. The reasons for the younger age of onset in relation to obesity, beta cell function and insulin sensitivity are under-explored.

Methods: Two cohorts of Asian Indians, the ICMR-INDIAB cohort (Indian Council of Medical Research-India Diabetes Study) and the DMDSC cohort (Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialties Centre), and one of white Europeans, the ESDC (East Scotland Diabetes Cohort), were used. Using a cross-sectional design, we examined the comparative prevalence of healthy, overweight and obese participants with young-onset diabetes, classified according to their BMI. We explored the role of clinically measured beta cell function in diabetes onset in Asian Indians. Finally, the comparative distribution of a partitioned polygenic score (pPS) for risk of diabetes due to poor beta cell function was examined. Replication of the genetic findings was sought using data from the UK Biobank.

Results: The prevalence of young-onset diabetes with normal BMI was 9.3% amongst white Europeans and 24–39% amongst Asian Indians. In Asian Indians with young-onset diabetes, after adjustment for family history of type 2 diabetes, sex, insulin sensitivity and HDL-cholesterol, stimulated C-peptide was 492 pmol/ml (IQR 353–616, p<0.0001) lower in lean compared with obese individuals. Asian Indians in our study, and South Asians from the UK Biobank, had a higher number of risk alleles than white Europeans. After weighting the pPS for beta cell function, Asian Indians have lower genetically determined beta cell function than white Europeans (p<0.0001). The pPS was associated with age of diagnosis in Asian Indians but not in white Europeans. The pPS explained 2% of the variation in clinically measured beta cell function, and 1.2%, 0.97%, and 0.36% of variance in age of diabetes amongst Asian Indians with normal BMI, or classified as overweight and obese BMI, respectively.

Conclusions/interpretation: The prevalence of lean BMI in young-onset diabetes is over two times higher in Asian Indians compared with white Europeans. This phenotype of lean, young-onset diabetes appears driven in part by lower beta cell function. We demonstrate that Asian Indians with diabetes also have lower genetically determined beta cell function. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)973-983
Number of pages11
Early online date5 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • Beta cell function
  • Epidemiology
  • Genetics of type 2 diabetes
  • South Asian diabetes
  • Young-onset diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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