Genetics of metabolic traits in Greenlanders: lessons from an isolated population

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

In this review, we describe the extraordinary population of Greenland, which differs from large outbred populations of Europe and Asia, both in terms of population history and living conditions. Many years in isolation, small population size and an extreme environment have shaped the genetic composition of the Greenlandic population. The unique genetic background combined with the transition from a traditional Inuit lifestyle and diet, to a more Westernized lifestyle, has led to an increase in the prevalence of metabolic conditions like obesity, where the prevalence from 1993 to 2010 has increased from 16.4% to 19.4% among men, and from 13.0% to 25.4% among women, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The genetic susceptibility to metabolic conditions has been explored in Greenlanders, as well as other isolated populations, taking advantage of population-genetic properties of these populations. During the last 10 years, these studies have provided examples of loci showing evidence of positive selection, due to adaption to Arctic climate and Inuit diet, including TBC1D4 and FADS/CPT1A, and have facilitated the discovery of several loci associated with metabolic phenotypes. Most recently, the c.2433-1G>A loss-of-function variant in ADCY3 associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes was described. This locus has provided novel biological insights, as it has been shown that reduced ADCY3 function causes obesity through disrupted function in primary cilia. Future studies of isolated populations will likely provide further genetic as well as biological insights.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Internal Medicine
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)464-477
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • ADCY3, Greenlandic Inuit, isolated populations, obesity, TBC1D4, type 2 diabetes

ID: 200859054