Several genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for serum fasting glucose levels have reported HHEX as possibly causal. The objective of this study was to examine the joint effect of smoking on the association of diabetes with the HHEX rs5015480 polymorphism among Korean subjects.
This replication study included a total of 4240 individuals, and multivariate linear regression and multiple logistic regression models were used. We examined the combined effect of smoking on the relationship between HHEX rs5015480 and diabetes.
The rs5015480 SNP in the HHEX gene was related to the mean FBS level (effect per allele, 1.572 mg/dL, p = 0.0122). Females with the CC genotype had a 2.68 times higher (range, 1.05–6.82 times) risk of diabetes than those with the TT/TC genotype. Although the association was stronger in female subjects (OR, 4.46; 95% CI, 1.15–17.3, p = 0.0304) among healthy individuals (N = 2461), the association between HHEX and diabetes was much stronger in male heavy smokers (OR, 4.03; 95% CI, 1.19–13.6, p = 0.0247) than in nonsmokers (p = 0.9709) and ex-smokers (p = 0.2399). The interaction of smoking was also statistically significant (P for interaction =0.0182).
This study clearly demonstrates that a genetic variant in HHEX influences fasting glucose levels in Korean women and male heavy smokers.