Epigenetics is the study of how your behaviours and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes work. Unlike genetic changes, epigenetic changes are reversible and do not change your DNA sequence, but they can change how your body reads a DNA sequence.
Researchers studied epigenetics in insulin-producing cells from donors and found 5584 sites in the genome with changes that differed between 25 individuals with Type 2 Diabetes and 75 individuals without Diabetes.
The same epigenetic changes found in people with Type 2 Diabetes were also found in individuals with elevated blood gluocse levels, which increase the risk of developing the disease. The study identified 203 genes with different expression in individuals with Type 2 Diabetes compared to the control group. Therefore, the researchers investigated whether their results from insulin-producing cells in the pancreas were reflected in the blood of living people.
They found epigenetic changes in the blood of a group of 540 people without the disease and they linked this to the future development of Type 2 Diabetes in half of the individuals. Factors such as unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, and ageing increase the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, and they also affect our epigenetics.
Nature Communications, 2023