Disrupted sleep patterns are known to be associated with a range of health problems including metabolic disorders like diabetes.
"We have extremely strong, incontrovertible evidence that the gene encoding melatonin receptor 1B is associated with high fasting glucose levels and increased risk of type 2 diabetes," Nature quoted, Professor Mark McCarthy of the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of Oxford as saying.
Melatonin hormone controls a person's sleep-wake cycles, with concentrations in the blood peaking at nighttime and dipping during the day. As a result, melatonin is implicated in conditions like jetlag and sleep disorders.
The melatonin receptor has been associated with high blood sugar and increased risk of diabetes.
During the study, the researchers a genome wide study involving 36,000 individuals of European descent.
They found that a variant in the gene encoding melatonin receptor 1B (MTNR1B) showed a rise of 0.07 mmol/l in fasting glucose level on average and a 9pct increase in risk of type 2 diabetes for each copy of the gene variant inherited from a parent.
"High fasting glucose levels are early markers of diabetes and this observation provides important clues about the possible mechanisms linking genes to diabetes risk," said Professor Nick Wareham, Director of the MRC Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge.
"Although levels of glucose in the blood are used to diagnose diabetes, most of the genes previously associated with high glucose levels do not increase risk of diabetes," said Dr Ines Barroso from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
The international team involved researchers from the University of Oxford, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the MRC Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge.
The study appears in Nature Genetics. (ANI)