BACKGROUND: The body of evidence on gene-environment interaction (GEI) related to type 2 diabetes (T2D) has grown in the recent years. However, most studies on GEI have sought to explain variation within individuals of European ancestry and results among ethnic minority groups are inconclusive. OBJECTIVE: To investigate any interaction between a gene and an environmental factor in relation to T2D among ethnic minority groups living in Europe and North America. METHODS: We systematically searched Medline and EMBASE databases for the published literature in English up to 25th March 2019. The screening, data extraction and quality assessment were performed by reviewers independently. RESULTS: 1068 studies identified through our search, of which nine cohorts of six studies evaluating several different GEIs were included. The mean follow-up time in the included studies ranged from 5 to 25.7 years. Most studies were relatively small scale and few provided replication data. All studies included in the review included ethnic minorities from North America (Native-Americans, African- Americans, and Aboriginal Canadian), none of the studies in Europe assessed GEI in relation to T2D incident in ethnic minorities. The only significant GEI among ethnic minorities was HNF1A rs137853240 and smoking on T2D incident among Native-Canadians (Pinteraction = 0.006). CONCLUSION: There is a need for more studies on GEI among ethnicities, broadening the spectrum of ethnic minority groups being investigated, performing more discovery using genome-wide approaches, larger sample sizes for these studies by collaborating efforts such as the InterConnect approach, and developing a more standardized method of reporting GEI studies are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-470
Number of pages14
JournalCurrent Diabetes Reviews
Issue number5
Early online date30 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Diabetes
  • Ethnic minority
  • Gene-environment interaction
  • Incident T2D
  • Migrant populations
  • Systematic review

Cite this