DNA methylation and type 2 diabetes: the use of Mendelian randomization to assess causality

Diana L Juvinao-Quintero, Marie-France Hivert, Gemma C Sharp, Caroline L Relton, Hannah R Elliott

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Purpose of Review
This review summarises recent advances in the field of epigenetics in order to understand the aetiology of type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Recent Findings
DNA methylation at a number of loci has been shown to be robustly associated with T2D, including TXNIP, ABCG1, CPT1A, and SREBF1. However, due to the cross-sectional nature of many epidemiological studies and predominant analysis in samples derived from blood rather than disease relevant tissues, inferring causality is difficult. We therefore outline the use of Mendelian randomisation (MR) as one method able to assess causality in epigenetic studies of T2D.

Epidemiological studies have been fruitful in identifying epigenetic markers of T2D. Triangulation of evidence including utilisation of MR is essential to delineate causal from non-causal biomarkers of disease. Understanding the causality of epigenetic markers in T2D more fully will aid prioritisation of CpG sites as early biomarkers to detect disease or in drug development to target epigenetic mechanisms in order to treat patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191–207
Number of pages17
JournalCurrent Genetic Medicine Reports
Early online date15 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

The acceptance date for this record is provisional and based upon the month of publication for the article.


  • Type 2 diabetes
  • DNA methylation
  • Biomarkers
  • Causal inference methods
  • Mendelian randomisation


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