Sex Differences in the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease Associated With Type 2 Diabetes: A Mendelian Randomization Analysis

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OBJECTIVE 

Observational studies have demonstrated that type 2 diabetes is a stronger risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD) in women compared with men. However, it is not clear whether this reflects a sex differential in the causal effect of diabetes on CHD risk or results from sex-specific residual confounding.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS 

Using 270 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for type 2 diabetes identified in a type 2 diabetes genome-wide association study, we performed a sex-stratified Mendelian randomization (MR) study of type 2 diabetes and CHD using individual participant data in UK Biobank (251,420 women and 212,049 men). Weighted median, MR-Egger, MR-pleiotropy residual sum and outlier, and radial MR from summary-level analyses were used for pleiotropy assessment.

RESULTS 

MR analyses showed that genetic risk of type 2 diabetes increased the odds of CHD for women (odds ratio 1.13 [95% CI 1.08–1.18] per 1-log unit increase in odds of type 2 diabetes) and men (1.21 [1.17–1.26] per 1-log unit increase in odds of type 2 diabetes). Sensitivity analyses showed some evidence of directional pleiotropy; however, results were similar after correction for outlier SNPs.

CONCLUSIONS 

This MR analysis supports a causal effect of genetic liability to type 2 diabetes on risk of CHD that is not stronger for women than men. Assuming a lack of bias, these findings suggest that the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes for CHD risk reduction is of equal priority in both sexes.



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