This study focused on resolving the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and type 2 diabetes. The availability of multiple variants associated with BMI offers a new chance to resolve the true causal effect of BMI on T2D, however the properties of these associations and their validity as genetic instruments need to be considered alongside established and new methods for undertaking Mendelian randomisation. We explore the potential for pleiotropic genetic variants to generate bias, revise existing estimates and illustrate value in new analysis methods. A two-sample Mendelian randomisation (MR) approach with 96 genetic variants was employed using three different analysis methods, two of which (MR-Egger and the weighted median) have been developed specifically to address problems of invalid instrumental variables. We estimate an odds ratio for type 2 diabetes per unit increase in BMI (kg/m2) of between 1.19 and 1.38, with the most stable estimate using all instruments and a weighted median approach (1.26 95%CI (1.17, 1.34)). TCF7L2(rs7903146) was identified as a complex effect or pleiotropic instrument and removal of this variant resulted in convergence of causal effect estimates from different causal analysis methods. This indicated the potential for pleiotropy to affect estimates and differences in performance of alternative analytical methods. In a real type 2 diabetes focused example, this study demonstrates the potential impact of invalid instruments on causal effect estimates and the potential for new approaches to mitigate the bias caused.
- Received March 31, 2016.
- Accepted July 2, 2016.
- © 2016 by the American Diabetes Association. Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered.