A study into identical twins, carried out by Lund University, has shown that changes to DNA can occur through life which influences the risk of type 2 diabetes.

The researchers reviewed 14 pairs of identical twins in which one of the twins had developed type 2 diabetes and the other had not.The aim of the study was to investigate whether any epigenetic changes had taken place. Currently there is known to be three main ways in which epigenetic changes can occur and the process of DNA methylation is one of them.

Within the study, 480,000 points on the DNA were investigated for signs of DNA methylation, leading to epigenetic differences between pairs of twins. The results of the study showed that, within the twins that had developed type 2 diabetes, genes involved with inflammation were up-regulated and genes responsible for metabolism of glucose and fat were down-regulated.

The researchers discovered that there were also certain changes to the DNA sequence between the twin with diabetes and the twin without. Having too few or too many copies of a DNA sequence can influence changes in the genes. Emma Nilsson, one of the research team at Lund University, stated: “We found six cases where one of the set of twins had more or fewer of these copies in his or her DNA, and we suspect that this could be another cause of the disease.”