from universities, journals, and other organizations
Year of birth significantly changes impact of obesity-associated gene variant
December 29, 2014
Massachusetts General Hospital
Investigators working to unravel the impact of genetics versus environment on traits such as obesity may also need to consider a new factor: when individuals were born. A multi-institutional research team finds that the impact of a variant in the FTO gene that previous research has linked to obesity risk largely depends on birth year.
Investigators working to unravel the impact of genetics versus environment on traits such as obesity may also need to consider a new factor: when individuals were born. In the current issue of PNAS Early Edition a multi-institutional research team reports finding that the impact of a variant in the FTO gene that previous research has linked to obesity risk largely depends on birth year, with no correlation between gene variant and obesity in study participants born in earlier years and a far stronger correlation than previously reported for those born in later years.
"Looking at participants in the Framingham Heart Study, we found that the correlation between the best known obesity-associated gene variant and body mass index increased significantly as the year of birth of participants increased," says James Niels Rosenquist, MD, PhD, of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Department of Psychiatry, lead author of the report. "These results -- to our knowledge the first of their kind -- suggest that this and perhaps other correlations between gene variants and physical traits may very significantly depending on when individuals were born, even for those born into the same families."
The authors note that most studies of interactions between genes and the environment have looked at differences within specific birth cohorts -- groups born during a particular span of years -- which would not account for changes in the larger environment that take place over time. To investigate whether different conditions experienced by different age groups might alter the impact of a gene variant, they analyzed data from participants in the Framingham Offspring Study -- which follows the children of participants in the original study -- gathered between 1971, when participants ranged in age from 27 to 63, and 2008.
Looking at the relationships between participants' body mass index (BMI), as measured eight times during the study period, the FTO variants they had inherited and when they were born revealed that the previously reported association between a specific FTO variant and BMI was seen, on average, only in participants born in later years. While there was no correlation between the obesity-risk variant and BMI for those born before 1942, in participants born after 1942 the correlation was twice as strong as reported in previous studies. While this study was not able to identify the environmental differences that combine with FTO variant to increase the risk of obesity, the authors note that post-World War II factors such as increased reliance on technology rather than physical labor and the availability of high-calorie processed foods are likely contributors.
"We know that environment plays a huge role in the expression of genes, and the fact that our effect can be seen even among siblings born during different years implies that global environmental factors such as trends in food products and workplace activity, not just those found within families, may impact genetic traits," says Rosenquist, an instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. "Our results underscore the importance of interpreting any genetic studies with a grain of salt and leave open the possibility that new genetic risk factors may be seen in the future due to different genetically-driven responses to our ever-changing environment."
- James Niels Rosenquist, Steven F. Lehrer, A. James O’malley, Alan M. Zaslavsky, Jordan W. Smoller, and Nicholas A. Christakis. Cohort of birth modifies the association between FTO genotype and BMI. PNAS, December 2014 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1411893111
Cite This Page:
More From ScienceDaily
More Health & Medicine News
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
from universities, journals, and other organizations
Dec. 30, 2014 — A two-pronged therapeutic approach has been discovered that shows great potential for weakening and then defeating cancer cells. The research team's complex mix of genetic and biochemical experiments ... full story
- Gene Repair Mechanism: Cancer Treatment?
- Malaria Combination Drug Therapy for Children
- Neonatal HBV Vaccine Reduces Liver Cancer Risk
- Nanotechnology Used to Engineer ACL Replacements
- Autistic Children With Pets Are More Assertive
- Safely Lowering Doses of Toxic TB Drug
- Lung Cancer Metastases May Travel Through Airways
- Slowing Cardiac Damage in Muscular Dystrophy
- Bats a Source of Ebola in West Africa?
- Molecular Network in Autism Spectrum Disorders
newer top stories | older top stories
Strange & Offbeat Stories
- Putting Bedbugs to Bed Forever
- Startling Benefit of Cardiology Meetings: Outcomes Better When Cardiologists Away?
- Hunter-Gatherer Past Shows Our Fragile Bones Result from Inactivity Since Invention of Farming
- Lost Memories Might Be Able to Be Restored, Suggests Research Into Marine Snail
- Weigh-in Once a Week or You'll Gain Weight
- That Smartphone Is Giving Your Thumbs Superpowers
- In One Aspect of Vision, Computers Catch Up to Primate Brain
- No 'Bird Brains'? Crows Exhibit Advanced Relational Thinking, Study Suggests
- Bugs Life: The Nerve Cells That Make Locusts ‘gang Up’
- Thumbs-Up for Mind-Controlled Robotic Arm
- When You Lose Weight, Where Does the Fat Go? Most of the Mass Is Breathed out as Carbon Dioxide, Study Shows
- Kids' Cartoon Characters Twice as Likely to Die as Counterparts in Films for Adults: Content on a Par With 'Rampant Horrors' of Popular Films
- Sharing That Crowded Holiday Flight With Countless Hitchhiking Dust Mites
- Is This the End of 'Fake Exemptions? ' It Is Possible to Detect When We Provide False Information Regarding Our Health Conditions Through Handwriting
- Dogs Hear Our Words and How We Say Them
... from NewsDaily.com
- Monarch butterfly eyed for possible U.S. endangered species protection
- Europe recommends approval for first stem-cell therapy
- Disgraced Japan researcher fails to replicate 'game changing' stem cell results
- Songbirds fly coop long before tornadoes arrive in Tennessee
- SpaceX delays planned cargo run to space station to early January
- Nurse becomes first Ebola victim diagnosed in Britain
- Flu at epidemic levels in U.S., deadly for children
- Hangover cure is elusive but symptom relief fizzles and flows
- NeuroDerm shares double as Parkinson's drug shows promise
- Nearly 6.5 million people in 2015 HealthCare.gov plans: U.S. agency
- Rare white rhino treated for mystery illness in California
- Cold grips U.S., with snow forecast from Southwest to Rockies
- Effort to kill California's ban on plastic grocery bags moves forward
- Dozens die as Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines battered by storms
- Malaysia flood response denounced anew as nearly quarter million flee
- Analytics-based U.S. tech firm Inovalon files for IPO
- India's capital sets new rules for Uber, other taxi operators
- Taiwan clears Xiaomi, other smartphone brands of breaching data privacy
- Low-risk 'worm' removed at hacked South Korea nuclear operator
- U.S. suspects North Korea had help attacking Sony Pictures: source