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1.  Global Transcript Profiles of Fat in Monozygotic Twins Discordant for BMI: Pathways behind Acquired Obesity  
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(3):e51.
Background
The acquired component of complex traits is difficult to dissect in humans. Obesity represents such a trait, in which the metabolic and molecular consequences emerge from complex interactions of genes and environment. With the substantial morbidity associated with obesity, a deeper understanding of the concurrent metabolic changes is of considerable importance. The goal of this study was to investigate this important acquired component and expose obesity-induced changes in biological pathways in an identical genetic background.
Methods and Findings
We used a special study design of “clonal controls,” rare monozygotic twins discordant for obesity identified through a national registry of 2,453 young, healthy twin pairs. A total of 14 pairs were studied (eight male, six female; white), with a mean ± standard deviation (SD) age 25.8 ± 1.4 y and a body mass index (BMI) difference 5.2 ± 1.8 kg/m2. Sequence analyses of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in subcutaneous fat and peripheral leukocytes revealed no aberrant heteroplasmy between the co-twins. However, mtDNA copy number was reduced by 47% in the obese co-twin's fat. In addition, novel pathway analyses of the adipose tissue transcription profiles exposed significant down-regulation of mitochondrial branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) catabolism (p < 0.0001). In line with this finding, serum levels of insulin secretion-enhancing BCAAs were increased in obese male co-twins (9% increase, p = 0.025). Lending clinical relevance to the findings, in both sexes the observed aberrations in mitochondrial amino acid metabolism pathways in fat correlated closely with liver fat accumulation, insulin resistance, and hyperinsulinemia, early aberrations of acquired obesity in these healthy young adults.
Conclusions
Our findings emphasize a substantial role of mitochondrial energy- and amino acid metabolism in obesity and development of insulin resistance.
Leena Peltonen and colleagues uncover the metabolic changes that result from obesity through an analysis of genetically identical twin pairs in which one was obese and the other was not.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Around the world, the proportion of people who are obese (people with an unhealthy amount of body fat) is increasing. In the US, for example, 1 adult in 7 was obese in the mid 1970s. That is, their body mass index (BMI)—their weight in kilograms divided by their height in meters squared—was more than 30. Nowadays, 1 US adult in 3 has a BMI this high and, by 2025, it is predicted that 1 in 2 will be obese. This obesity epidemic is being driven by lifestyle changes that encourage the over-consumption of energy-rich foods and discourage regular physical activity. The resultant energy imbalance leads to weight gain (the excess energy is stored as body fat or adipose tissue) and also triggers numerous metabolic changes, alterations in the chemical processes that convert food into the energy and various substances needed to support life. These obesity-related metabolic changes increase a person's risk of developing adverse health conditions such as diabetes, a condition in which dangerously high levels of sugar from food accumulate in the blood.
Why Was This Study Done?
The changes in human fat in obesity have not been completely understood, although the abnormal metabolism of adipose tissue is increasingly seen as playing a critical part in excessive weight gain. It has been very difficult to decipher which molecular and metabolic changes associated with obesity are the result of becoming obese, and which might contribute towards the acquisition of obesity in humans in the first place. To discover more about the influence of environment on obesity-induced metabolic changes, the researchers in this study have investigated these changes in pairs of genetically identical twins.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers recruited 14 pairs of genetically identical Finnish twins born between 1975 and 1979 who were “obesity discordant”—that is, one twin of each pair had a BMI of about 25 (not obese); the other had a BMI of about 30 (obese). The researchers took fat and blood samples from each twin, determined the insulin sensitivity of each, and measured the body composition and various fat stores of each. They found that the obese twins had more subcutaneous, intra-abdominal, and liver fat and were less insulin sensitive than the non-obese twins. Insulin sensitivity correlated with the amount of liver fat. Analysis of gene expression in the fat samples showed that 19 gene pathways (mainly inflammatory pathways) were expressed more strongly (up-regulated) in the obese twins than the non-obese twins, whereas seven pathways were down-regulated. The most highly down-regulated pathway was a mitochondrial pathway involved in amino acid breakdown, but mitochondrial energy metabolism pathways were also down-regulated. Finally, mitochondrial DNA copy number in fat was reduced in the obese twins by nearly half, a novel observation that could partly account for the obesity-induced metabolic defects of these individuals.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These and other findings identify several pathways that are involved in the development of obesity and insulin resistance. In particular, they suggest that changes in mitochondrial energy production pathways and in mitochondrial amino acid metabolism pathways could play important roles in the development of obesity and of insulin resistance and in the accumulation of liver fat even in young obese people. The study design involving identical twins has here produced some evidence for aberrations in molecules critical for acquired obesity. The results suggest that careful management of obesity by lifestyle changes has the potential to correct the obesity-related metabolic changes in fat that would otherwise lead to diabetes and other adverse health conditions in obese individuals. In addition, they suggest that the development of therapies designed to correct mitochondrial metabolism might help to reduce the illnesses associated with obesity.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050051.
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on obesity and diabetes (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on all aspects of obesity (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service's health Web site (NHS Direct) provides information about obesity
The International Obesity Taskforce provides information about preventing obesity and on diabetes and obesity
The UK Foods Standards Agency and the United States Department of Agriculture provide online tools and useful advice about healthy eating for adults and children
Information is available for patients and carers from the US National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse on diabetes, including information on insulin resistance
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050051
PMCID: PMC2265758  PMID: 18336063
2.  The Role of Adiposity in Cardiometabolic Traits: A Mendelian Randomization Analysis 
Fall, Tove | Hägg, Sara | Mägi, Reedik | Ploner, Alexander | Fischer, Krista | Horikoshi, Momoko | Sarin, Antti-Pekka | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Ladenvall, Claes | Kals, Mart | Kuningas, Maris | Draisma, Harmen H. M. | Ried, Janina S. | van Zuydam, Natalie R. | Huikari, Ville | Mangino, Massimo | Sonestedt, Emily | Benyamin, Beben | Nelson, Christopher P. | Rivera, Natalia V. | Kristiansson, Kati | Shen, Huei-yi | Havulinna, Aki S. | Dehghan, Abbas | Donnelly, Louise A. | Kaakinen, Marika | Nuotio, Marja-Liisa | Robertson, Neil | de Bruijn, Renée F. A. G. | Ikram, M. Arfan | Amin, Najaf | Balmforth, Anthony J. | Braund, Peter S. | Doney, Alexander S. F. | Döring, Angela | Elliott, Paul | Esko, Tõnu | Franco, Oscar H. | Gretarsdottir, Solveig | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Heikkilä, Kauko | Herzig, Karl-Heinz | Holm, Hilma | Hottenga, Jouke Jan | Hyppönen, Elina | Illig, Thomas | Isaacs, Aaron | Isomaa, Bo | Karssen, Lennart C. | Kettunen, Johannes | Koenig, Wolfgang | Kuulasmaa, Kari | Laatikainen, Tiina | Laitinen, Jaana | Lindgren, Cecilia | Lyssenko, Valeriya | Läärä, Esa | Rayner, Nigel W. | Männistö, Satu | Pouta, Anneli | Rathmann, Wolfgang | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Ruokonen, Aimo | Savolainen, Markku J. | Sijbrands, Eric J. G. | Small, Kerrin S. | Smit, Jan H. | Steinthorsdottir, Valgerdur | Syvänen, Ann-Christine | Taanila, Anja | Tobin, Martin D. | Uitterlinden, Andre G. | Willems, Sara M. | Willemsen, Gonneke | Witteman, Jacqueline | Perola, Markus | Evans, Alun | Ferrières, Jean | Virtamo, Jarmo | Kee, Frank | Tregouet, David-Alexandre | Arveiler, Dominique | Amouyel, Philippe | Ferrario, Marco M. | Brambilla, Paolo | Hall, Alistair S. | Heath, Andrew C. | Madden, Pamela A. F. | Martin, Nicholas G. | Montgomery, Grant W. | Whitfield, John B. | Jula, Antti | Knekt, Paul | Oostra, Ben | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Penninx, Brenda W. J. H. | Davey Smith, George | Kaprio, Jaakko | Samani, Nilesh J. | Gieger, Christian | Peters, Annette | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Boomsma, Dorret I. | de Geus, Eco J. C. | Tuomi, TiinaMaija | Power, Chris | Hammond, Christopher J. | Spector, Tim D. | Lind, Lars | Orho-Melander, Marju | Palmer, Colin Neil Alexander | Morris, Andrew D. | Groop, Leif | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Salomaa, Veikko | Vartiainen, Erkki | Hofman, Albert | Ripatti, Samuli | Metspalu, Andres | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Stefansson, Kari | Pedersen, Nancy L. | McCarthy, Mark I. | Ingelsson, Erik | Prokopenko, Inga
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(6):e1001474.
In this study, Prokopenko and colleagues provide novel evidence for causal relationship between adiposity and heart failure and increased liver enzymes using a Mendelian randomization study design.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
The association between adiposity and cardiometabolic traits is well known from epidemiological studies. Whilst the causal relationship is clear for some of these traits, for others it is not. We aimed to determine whether adiposity is causally related to various cardiometabolic traits using the Mendelian randomization approach.
Methods and Findings
We used the adiposity-associated variant rs9939609 at the FTO locus as an instrumental variable (IV) for body mass index (BMI) in a Mendelian randomization design. Thirty-six population-based studies of individuals of European descent contributed to the analyses.
Age- and sex-adjusted regression models were fitted to test for association between (i) rs9939609 and BMI (n = 198,502), (ii) rs9939609 and 24 traits, and (iii) BMI and 24 traits. The causal effect of BMI on the outcome measures was quantified by IV estimators. The estimators were compared to the BMI–trait associations derived from the same individuals. In the IV analysis, we demonstrated novel evidence for a causal relationship between adiposity and incident heart failure (hazard ratio, 1.19 per BMI-unit increase; 95% CI, 1.03–1.39) and replicated earlier reports of a causal association with type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, dyslipidemia, and hypertension (odds ratio for IV estimator, 1.1–1.4; all p<0.05). For quantitative traits, our results provide novel evidence for a causal effect of adiposity on the liver enzymes alanine aminotransferase and gamma-glutamyl transferase and confirm previous reports of a causal effect of adiposity on systolic and diastolic blood pressure, fasting insulin, 2-h post-load glucose from the oral glucose tolerance test, C-reactive protein, triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (all p<0.05). The estimated causal effects were in agreement with traditional observational measures in all instances except for type 2 diabetes, where the causal estimate was larger than the observational estimate (p = 0.001).
Conclusions
We provide novel evidence for a causal relationship between adiposity and heart failure as well as between adiposity and increased liver enzymes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Cardiovascular disease (CVD)—disease that affects the heart and/or the blood vessels—is a major cause of illness and death worldwide. In the US, for example, coronary heart disease—a CVD in which narrowing of the heart's blood vessels by fatty deposits slows the blood supply to the heart and may eventually cause a heart attack—is the leading cause of death, and stroke—a CVD in which the brain's blood supply is interrupted—is the fourth leading cause of death. Globally, both the incidence of CVD (the number of new cases in a population every year) and its prevalence (the proportion of the population with CVD) are increasing, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. This increasing burden of CVD is occurring in parallel with a global increase in the incidence and prevalence of obesity—having an unhealthy amount of body fat (adiposity)—and of metabolic diseases—conditions such as diabetes in which metabolism (the processes that the body uses to make energy from food) is disrupted, with resulting high blood sugar and damage to the blood vessels.
Why Was This Study Done?
Epidemiological studies—investigations that record the patterns and causes of disease in populations—have reported an association between adiposity (indicated by an increased body mass index [BMI], which is calculated by dividing body weight in kilograms by height in meters squared) and cardiometabolic traits such as coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure (a condition in which the heart is incapable of pumping sufficient amounts of blood around the body), diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), and high blood cholesterol (dyslipidemia). However, observational studies cannot prove that adiposity causes any particular cardiometabolic trait because overweight individuals may share other characteristics (confounding factors) that are the real causes of both obesity and the cardiometabolic disease. Moreover, it is possible that having CVD or a metabolic disease causes obesity (reverse causation). For example, individuals with heart failure cannot do much exercise, so heart failure may cause obesity rather than vice versa. Here, the researchers use “Mendelian randomization” to examine whether adiposity is causally related to various cardiometabolic traits. Because gene variants are inherited randomly, they are not prone to confounding and are free from reverse causation. It is known that a genetic variant (rs9939609) within the genome region that encodes the fat-mass- and obesity-associated gene (FTO) is associated with increased BMI. Thus, an investigation of the associations between rs9939609 and cardiometabolic traits can indicate whether obesity is causally related to these traits.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed the association between rs9939609 (the “instrumental variable,” or IV) and BMI, between rs9939609 and 24 cardiometabolic traits, and between BMI and the same traits using genetic and health data collected in 36 population-based studies of nearly 200,000 individuals of European descent. They then quantified the strength of the causal association between BMI and the cardiometabolic traits by calculating “IV estimators.” Higher BMI showed a causal relationship with heart failure, metabolic syndrome (a combination of medical disorders that increases the risk of developing CVD), type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, increased blood levels of liver enzymes (an indicator of liver damage; some metabolic disorders involve liver damage), and several other cardiometabolic traits. All the IV estimators were similar to the BMI–cardiovascular trait associations (observational estimates) derived from the same individuals, with the exception of diabetes, where the causal estimate was higher than the observational estimate, probably because the observational estimate is based on a single BMI measurement, whereas the causal estimate considers lifetime changes in BMI.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Like all Mendelian randomization studies, the reliability of the causal associations reported here depends on several assumptions made by the researchers. Nevertheless, these findings provide support for many previously suspected and biologically plausible causal relationships, such as that between adiposity and hypertension. They also provide new insights into the causal effect of obesity on liver enzyme levels and on heart failure. In the latter case, these findings suggest that a one-unit increase in BMI might increase the incidence of heart failure by 17%. In the US, this corresponds to 113,000 additional cases of heart failure for every unit increase in BMI at the population level. Although additional studies are needed to confirm and extend these findings, these results suggest that global efforts to reduce the burden of obesity will likely also reduce the occurrence of CVD and metabolic disorders.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001474.
The American Heart Association provides information on all aspects of cardiovascular disease and tips on keeping the heart healthy, including weight management (in several languages); its website includes personal stories about stroke and heart attacks
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on heart disease, stroke, and all aspects of overweight and obesity (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about cardiovascular disease and obesity, including a personal story about losing weight
The World Health Organization provides information on obesity (in several languages)
The International Obesity Taskforce provides information about the global obesity epidemic
Wikipedia has a page on Mendelian randomization (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
MedlinePlus provides links to other sources of information on heart disease, on vascular disease, on obesity, and on metabolic disorders (in English and Spanish)
The International Association for the Study of Obesity provides maps and information about obesity worldwide
The International Diabetes Federation has a web page that describes types, complications, and risk factors of diabetes
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001474
PMCID: PMC3692470  PMID: 23824655
3.  Physical Activity Attenuates the Genetic Predisposition to Obesity in 20,000 Men and Women from EPIC-Norfolk Prospective Population Study 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(8):e1000332.
Shengxu Li and colleagues use data from a large prospective observational cohort to examine the extent to which a genetic predisposition toward obesity may be modified by living a physically active lifestyle.
Background
We have previously shown that multiple genetic loci identified by genome-wide association studies (GWAS) increase the susceptibility to obesity in a cumulative manner. It is, however, not known whether and to what extent this genetic susceptibility may be attenuated by a physically active lifestyle. We aimed to assess the influence of a physically active lifestyle on the genetic predisposition to obesity in a large population-based study.
Methods and Findings
We genotyped 12 SNPs in obesity-susceptibility loci in a population-based sample of 20,430 individuals (aged 39–79 y) from the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC)-Norfolk cohort with an average follow-up period of 3.6 y. A genetic predisposition score was calculated for each individual by adding the body mass index (BMI)-increasing alleles across the 12 SNPs. Physical activity was assessed using a self-administered questionnaire. Linear and logistic regression models were used to examine main effects of the genetic predisposition score and its interaction with physical activity on BMI/obesity risk and BMI change over time, assuming an additive effect for each additional BMI-increasing allele carried. Each additional BMI-increasing allele was associated with 0.154 (standard error [SE] 0.012) kg/m2 (p = 6.73×10−37) increase in BMI (equivalent to 445 g in body weight for a person 1.70 m tall). This association was significantly (pinteraction = 0.005) more pronounced in inactive people (0.205 [SE 0.024] kg/m2 [p = 3.62×10−18; 592 g in weight]) than in active people (0.131 [SE 0.014] kg/m2 [p = 7.97×10−21; 379 g in weight]). Similarly, each additional BMI-increasing allele increased the risk of obesity 1.116-fold (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.093–1.139, p = 3.37×10−26) in the whole population, but significantly (pinteraction = 0.015) more in inactive individuals (odds ratio [OR] = 1.158 [95% CI 1.118–1.199; p = 1.93×10−16]) than in active individuals (OR = 1.095 (95% CI 1.068–1.123; p = 1.15×10−12]). Consistent with the cross-sectional observations, physical activity modified the association between the genetic predisposition score and change in BMI during follow-up (pinteraction = 0.028).
Conclusions
Our study shows that living a physically active lifestyle is associated with a 40% reduction in the genetic predisposition to common obesity, as estimated by the number of risk alleles carried for any of the 12 recently GWAS-identified loci.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In the past few decades, the global incidence of obesity—defined as a body mass index (BMI, a simple index of weight-for-height that uses the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters) of 30 and over, has increased so much that this growing public health concern is now commonly referred to as the “obesity epidemic.” Once considered prevalent only in high-income countries, obesity is an increasing health problem in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings. In 2005, at least 400 million adults world-wide were obese, and the projected figure for 2015 is a substantial increase of 300 million to around 700 million. Childhood obesity is also a growing concern. Contributing factors to the obesity epidemic are a shift in diet to an increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat and sugars and a trend towards decreased physical activity due to increasingly sedentary lifestyles.
However, genetics are also thought to play a critical role as genetically predisposed individuals may be more prone to obesity if they live in an environment that has abundant access to energy-dense food and labor-saving devices.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although recent genetic studies (genome-wide association studies) have identified 12 alleles (a DNA variant that is located at a specific position on a specific chromosome) associated with increased BMI, there has been no convincing evidence of the interaction between genetics and lifestyle. In this study the researchers examined the possibility of such an interaction by assessing whether individuals with a genetic predisposition to increased obesity risk could modify this risk by increasing their daily physical activity.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used a population-based cohort study of 25,631 people living in Norwich, UK (The EPIC-Norfolk study) and identified individuals who were 39 to 79 years old during a health check between 1993 and 1997. The researchers invited these people to a second health examination. In total, 20,430 individuals had baseline data available, of which 11,936 had BMI data at the second health check. The researchers used genotyping methods and then calculated a genetic predisposition score for each individual and their occupational and leisure-time physical activities were assessed by using a validated self-administered questionnaire. Then, the researchers used modeling techniques to examine the main effects of the genetic predisposition score and its interaction with physical activity on BMI/obesity risk and BMI change over time. The researchers found that each additional BMI-increasing allele was associated with an increase in BMI equivalent to 445 g in body weight for a person 1.70 m tall and that the size of this effect was greater in inactive people than in active people. In individuals who have a physically active lifestyle, this increase was only 379 g/allele, or 36% lower than in physically inactive individuals in whom the increase was 592 g/allele. Furthermore, in the total sample each additional obesity-susceptibility allele increased the odds of obesity by 1.116-fold. However, the increased odds per allele for obesity risk were 40% lower in physically active individuals (1.095 odds/allele) compared to physically inactive individuals (1.158 odds/allele).
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings of this study indicate that the genetic predisposition to obesity can be reduced by approximately 40% by having a physically active lifestyle. The findings of this study suggest that, while the whole population benefits from increased physical activity levels, individuals who are genetically predisposed to obesity would benefit more than genetically protected individuals. Furthermore, these findings challenge the deterministic view of the genetic predisposition to obesity that is often held by the public, as they show that even the most genetically predisposed individuals will benefit from adopting a healthy lifestyle. The results are limited by participants self-reporting their physical activity levels, which is less accurate than objective measures of physical activity.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000332.
This study relies on the results of previous genome-wide association studies The National Human Genome Research Institute provides an easy-to-follow guide to understanding such studies
The International Association for the Study of Obesity aims to improve global health by promoting the understanding of obesity and weight-related diseases through scientific research and dialogue
The International Obesity Taskforce is the research-led think tank and advocacy arm of the International Association for the Study of Obesity
The Global Alliance for the Prevention of Obesity and Related Chronic Disease is a global action program that addresses the issues surrounding the prevention of obesity
The National Institutes of Health has its own obesity task force, which includes 26 institutes
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000332
PMCID: PMC2930873  PMID: 20824172
4.  Studies of CTNNBL1 and FDFT1 variants and measures of obesity: analyses of quantitative traits and case-control studies in 18,014 Danes 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:17.
Background
A genome-wide scan in unrelated US Caucasians identified rs7001819 upstream of farnesyl-diphosphate farnesyltransferase 1 (FDFT1) and multiple variants within catenin (cadherin-associated protein), β-like 1 (CTNNBL1) to associate strongly with body mass index (BMI). The most significantly associating variants within CTNNBL1 including rs6013029 and rs6020846 were additionally confirmed to associate with morbid obesity in a French Caucasian case-control sample. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of these three variants on obesity, through analyses of obesity-related quantitative traits, and case-control studies in large study samples of Danes.
Methods
The FDFT1 rs7001819, CTNNBL1 rs6013029 and rs6020846 were genotyped, using TaqMan allelic discrimination, in a combined study sample comprising 18,014 participants ascertained from; the population-based Inter99 cohort (n = 6,514), the ADDITION Denmark screening study cohort (n = 8,662), and a population-based sample (n = 680) and a type 2 diabetic patients group (n = 2,158) from Steno Diabetes Center.
Results
Both CTNNBL1 variants associated with body weight and height with per allele effect sizes of 1.0 [0.3–0.8] kg and 0.6 [0.2–0.9] cm, respectively, for the rs6020846 G-allele. No association was observed with BMI and waist circumference. In case-control studies neither of the CTNNBL1 variants showed association with overweight, obesity or morbid obesity (rs6013029: Odds Ratio (OR)overweight = 1.02 [0.90–1.16], ORobesity = 1.09 [0.95–1.25], ORmorbidobesity = 1.26 [0.91–1.74]; rs6020846: ORoverweight = 1.05 [0.93–1.18], ORobesity= 1.13 [1.00–1.28], ORmorbidobesity = 1.17 [0.86–1.61]). However, in meta-analyses of the present and the previous study, both the rs6013029 T-allele and the rs6020846 G-allele increased the risk of developing morbid obesity (rs6013029: ORcombined = 1.36 [1.12–1.64], p = 0.002; rs6020846: ORcombined = 1.26 [1.06–1.51], p = 0.01), and obesity (rs6013029: ORcombined = 1.17 [1.04–1.31], p = 0.007; rs6020846: ORcombined = 1.17 [1.05–1.30], p = 0.004).
The FDFT1 rs7001819 C-allele showed no association with obesity-related quantitative measures or dichotomous measures of overweight, obesity and morbid obesity.
Conclusion
CTNNBL1 variants associated with body weight and height, and confer the risk of developing obesity in meta-analyses combining the present and a previous study. FDFT1 rs7001819 showed no association with obesity, neither when analysing quantitative traits nor when performing case-control studies of obesity.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-17
PMCID: PMC2669074  PMID: 19245693
5.  A Genome-Wide Association Study on Obesity and Obesity-Related Traits 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18939.
Large-scale genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified many loci associated with body mass index (BMI), but few studies focused on obesity as a binary trait. Here we report the results of a GWAS and candidate SNP genotyping study of obesity, including extremely obese cases and never overweight controls as well as families segregating extreme obesity and thinness. We first performed a GWAS on 520 cases (BMI>35 kg/m2) and 540 control subjects (BMI<25 kg/m2), on measures of obesity and obesity-related traits. We subsequently followed up obesity-associated signals by genotyping the top ∼500 SNPs from GWAS in the combined sample of cases, controls and family members totaling 2,256 individuals. For the binary trait of obesity, we found 16 genome-wide significant signals within the FTO gene (strongest signal at rs17817449, P = 2.5×10−12). We next examined obesity-related quantitative traits (such as total body weight, waist circumference and waist to hip ratio), and detected genome-wide significant signals between waist to hip ratio and NRXN3 (rs11624704, P = 2.67×10−9), previously associated with body weight and fat distribution. Our study demonstrated how a relatively small sample ascertained through extreme phenotypes can detect genuine associations in a GWAS.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018939
PMCID: PMC3084240  PMID: 21552555
6.  Genome-Wide Association Scan Shows Genetic Variants in the FTO Gene Are Associated with Obesity-Related Traits 
PLoS Genetics  2007;3(7):e115.
The obesity epidemic is responsible for a substantial economic burden in developed countries and is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The disease is the result not only of several environmental risk factors, but also of genetic predisposition. To take advantage of recent advances in gene-mapping technology, we executed a genome-wide association scan to identify genetic variants associated with obesity-related quantitative traits in the genetically isolated population of Sardinia. Initial analysis suggested that several SNPs in the FTO and PFKP genes were associated with increased BMI, hip circumference, and weight. Within the FTO gene, rs9930506 showed the strongest association with BMI (p = 8.6 ×10−7), hip circumference (p = 3.4 × 10−8), and weight (p = 9.1 × 10−7). In Sardinia, homozygotes for the rare “G” allele of this SNP (minor allele frequency = 0.46) were 1.3 BMI units heavier than homozygotes for the common “A” allele. Within the PFKP gene, rs6602024 showed very strong association with BMI (p = 4.9 × 10−6). Homozygotes for the rare “A” allele of this SNP (minor allele frequency = 0.12) were 1.8 BMI units heavier than homozygotes for the common “G” allele. To replicate our findings, we genotyped these two SNPs in the GenNet study. In European Americans (N = 1,496) and in Hispanic Americans (N = 839), we replicated significant association between rs9930506 in the FTO gene and BMI (p-value for meta-analysis of European American and Hispanic American follow-up samples, p = 0.001), weight (p = 0.001), and hip circumference (p = 0.0005). We did not replicate association between rs6602024 and obesity-related traits in the GenNet sample, although we found that in European Americans, Hispanic Americans, and African Americans, homozygotes for the rare “A” allele were, on average, 1.0–3.0 BMI units heavier than homozygotes for the more common “G” allele. In summary, we have completed a whole genome–association scan for three obesity-related quantitative traits and report that common genetic variants in the FTO gene are associated with substantial changes in BMI, hip circumference, and body weight. These changes could have a significant impact on the risk of obesity-related morbidity in the general population.
Author Summary
Although twin and family studies have clearly shown that genes play a role in obesity, it has proven quite difficult to identify the specific genetic variants involved. Here, we take advantage of recent technical and methodological advances to examine the role of common genetic variants on several obesity-related traits. By examining >4,000 Sardinians, we show that a specific genetic variant, rs9930506, and other nearby variants on human Chromosome 16 are associated with body mass index, hip circumference, and total body weight. The variants overlap FTO, a gene with poorly understood function. Further studies of the region may implicate new biological pathways affecting susceptibility to obesity. We also show that the association is not restricted to Sardinia but is also seen in independent samples of European Americans and Hispanic Americans. This finding is particularly important because obesity is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0030115
PMCID: PMC1934391  PMID: 17658951
7.  DNA Methylation of the LY86 Gene is Associated With Obesity, Insulin Resistance, and Inflammation 
Background
Previous genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified a large number of genetic variants for obesity and its related traits, representing a group of potential key genes in the etiology of obesity. Emerging evidence suggests that epigenetics may play an important role in obesity. It has not been explored whether the GWAS-identified loci contribute to obesity through epigenetics (e.g., DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) methylation) in addition to genetics.
Method
A multi-stage cross-sectional study was designed. We did a literature search and identified 117 genes discovered by GWAS for obesity and its related traits. Then we analyzed whether the methylation levels of these genes were also associated with obesity in two genome-wide methylation panels. We examined an initial panel of seven adolescent obese cases and seven age-matched lean controls, followed by a second panel of 48 adolescent obese cases and 48 age- and gender-matched lean controls. The validated CpG sites were further replicated in two independent replication panels of youth (46 vs. 46 and 230 cases vs. 413 controls, respectively) and a general population of youth, including 703 healthy subjects.
Results
One CpG site in the lymphocyte antigen 86 (LY86) gene, which showed higher methylation in the obese in both the initial (p = .009) and second genome-wide DNA methylation panel (p = .008), was further validated in both replication panels (meta p = .00016). Moreover, in the general population of youth, the methylation levels of this region were significantly correlated with adiposity indices (p ≤.02), insulin resistance (p = .001), and inflammatory markers (p < .001).
Conclusion
By focusing on recent GWAS findings in genome-wide methylation profiles, we identified a solid association between LY86 gene DNA methylation and obesity.
doi:10.1017/thg.2014.22
PMCID: PMC4090018  PMID: 24735745
DNA methylation; obesity; GWAS; insulin resistance; inflammation
8.  Genetic susceptibility to obesity and diet intakes: association and interaction analyses in the Malmö Diet and Cancer Study 
Genes & Nutrition  2013;8(6):535-547.
Gene–environment interactions need to be studied to better understand the obesity. We aimed at determining whether genetic susceptibility to obesity associates with diet intake levels and whether diet intakes modify the genetic susceptibility. In 29,480 subjects of the population-based Malmö Diet and Cancer Study (MDCS), we first assessed association between 16 genome-wide association studies identified obesity-related single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with body mass index (BMI) and associated traits. We then conducted association analyses between a genetic risk score (GRS) comprising of 13 replicated SNPs and the individual SNPs, and relative dietary intakes of fat, carbohydrates, protein, fiber and total energy intake, as well as interaction analyses on BMI and associated traits among 26,107 nondiabetic MDCS participants. GRS associated strongly with increased BMI (P = 3.6 × 10−34), fat mass (P = 6.3 × 10−28) and fat-free mass (P = 1.3 × 10−24). Higher GRS associated with lower total energy intake (P = 0.001) and higher intake of fiber (P = 2.3 × 10−4). No significant interactions were observed between GRS and the studied dietary intakes on BMI or related traits. Of the individual SNPs, after correcting for multiple comparisons, NEGR1 rs2815752 associated with diet intakes and BDNF rs4923461 showed interaction with protein intake on BMI. In conclusion, our study does not provide evidence for a major role for macronutrient-, fiber- or total energy intake levels in modifying genetic susceptibility to obesity measured as GRS. However, our data suggest that the number of risk alleles as well as some of the individual obesity loci may have a role in regulation of food and energy intake and that some individual loci may interact with diet.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12263-013-0352-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s12263-013-0352-8
PMCID: PMC3824829  PMID: 23861046
Obesity susceptibility loci; Fat mass; Fat-free mass; Gene–diet interactions; Macronutrients; Genetic risk score
9.  Physical Activity Attenuates the Influence of FTO Variants on Obesity Risk: A Meta-Analysis of 218,166 Adults and 19,268 Children 
Kilpeläinen, Tuomas O. | Qi, Lu | Brage, Soren | Sharp, Stephen J. | Sonestedt, Emily | Demerath, Ellen | Ahmad, Tariq | Mora, Samia | Kaakinen, Marika | Sandholt, Camilla Helene | Holzapfel, Christina | Autenrieth, Christine S. | Hyppönen, Elina | Cauchi, Stéphane | He, Meian | Kutalik, Zoltan | Kumari, Meena | Stančáková, Alena | Meidtner, Karina | Balkau, Beverley | Tan, Jonathan T. | Mangino, Massimo | Timpson, Nicholas J. | Song, Yiqing | Zillikens, M. Carola | Jablonski, Kathleen A. | Garcia, Melissa E. | Johansson, Stefan | Bragg-Gresham, Jennifer L. | Wu, Ying | van Vliet-Ostaptchouk, Jana V. | Onland-Moret, N. Charlotte | Zimmermann, Esther | Rivera, Natalia V. | Tanaka, Toshiko | Stringham, Heather M. | Silbernagel, Günther | Kanoni, Stavroula | Feitosa, Mary F. | Snitker, Soren | Ruiz, Jonatan R. | Metter, Jeffery | Larrad, Maria Teresa Martinez | Atalay, Mustafa | Hakanen, Maarit | Amin, Najaf | Cavalcanti-Proença, Christine | Grøntved, Anders | Hallmans, Göran | Jansson, John-Olov | Kuusisto, Johanna | Kähönen, Mika | Lutsey, Pamela L. | Nolan, John J. | Palla, Luigi | Pedersen, Oluf | Pérusse, Louis | Renström, Frida | Scott, Robert A. | Shungin, Dmitry | Sovio, Ulla | Tammelin, Tuija H. | Rönnemaa, Tapani | Lakka, Timo A. | Uusitupa, Matti | Rios, Manuel Serrano | Ferrucci, Luigi | Bouchard, Claude | Meirhaeghe, Aline | Fu, Mao | Walker, Mark | Borecki, Ingrid B. | Dedoussis, George V. | Fritsche, Andreas | Ohlsson, Claes | Boehnke, Michael | Bandinelli, Stefania | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Ebrahim, Shah | Lawlor, Debbie A. | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Harris, Tamara B. | Sørensen, Thorkild I. A. | Mohlke, Karen L. | Hofman, Albert | Uitterlinden, André G. | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Lehtimäki, Terho | Raitakari, Olli | Isomaa, Bo | Njølstad, Pål R. | Florez, Jose C. | Liu, Simin | Ness, Andy | Spector, Timothy D. | Tai, E. Shyong | Froguel, Philippe | Boeing, Heiner | Laakso, Markku | Marmot, Michael | Bergmann, Sven | Power, Chris | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Chasman, Daniel | Ridker, Paul | Hansen, Torben | Monda, Keri L. | Illig, Thomas | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Hu, Frank B. | Groop, Leif C. | Orho-Melander, Marju | Ekelund, Ulf | Franks, Paul W. | Loos, Ruth J. F.
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(11):e1001116.
Ruth Loos and colleagues report findings from a meta-analysis of multiple studies examining the extent to which physical activity attenuates effects of a specific gene variant, FTO, on obesity in adults and children. They report a fairly substantial attenuation by physical activity on the effects of this genetic variant on the risk of obesity in adults.
Background
The FTO gene harbors the strongest known susceptibility locus for obesity. While many individual studies have suggested that physical activity (PA) may attenuate the effect of FTO on obesity risk, other studies have not been able to confirm this interaction. To confirm or refute unambiguously whether PA attenuates the association of FTO with obesity risk, we meta-analyzed data from 45 studies of adults (n = 218,166) and nine studies of children and adolescents (n = 19,268).
Methods and Findings
All studies identified to have data on the FTO rs9939609 variant (or any proxy [r2>0.8]) and PA were invited to participate, regardless of ethnicity or age of the participants. PA was standardized by categorizing it into a dichotomous variable (physically inactive versus active) in each study. Overall, 25% of adults and 13% of children were categorized as inactive. Interaction analyses were performed within each study by including the FTO×PA interaction term in an additive model, adjusting for age and sex. Subsequently, random effects meta-analysis was used to pool the interaction terms. In adults, the minor (A−) allele of rs9939609 increased the odds of obesity by 1.23-fold/allele (95% CI 1.20–1.26), but PA attenuated this effect (pinteraction  = 0.001). More specifically, the minor allele of rs9939609 increased the odds of obesity less in the physically active group (odds ratio  = 1.22/allele, 95% CI 1.19–1.25) than in the inactive group (odds ratio  = 1.30/allele, 95% CI 1.24–1.36). No such interaction was found in children and adolescents.
Conclusions
The association of the FTO risk allele with the odds of obesity is attenuated by 27% in physically active adults, highlighting the importance of PA in particular in those genetically predisposed to obesity.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors’ Summary
Background
Two in three Americans are overweight, of whom half are obese, and the trend towards increasing obesity is now seen across developed and developing countries. There has long been interest in understanding the impact of genes and environment when it comes to apportioning responsibility for obesity. Carrying a change in the FTO gene is common (found in three-quarters of Europeans and North Americans) and is associated with a 20%–30% increased risk of obesity. Some overweight or obese individuals may feel that the dice are loaded and there is little point in fighting the fat; it has been reported that those made aware of their genetic susceptibility to obesity may still choose a poor diet. A similar fatalism may occur when overweight and obese people consider physical activity. But disentangling the influence of physical activity on those genetically susceptible to obesity from other factors that might impact weight is not straightforward, as it requires large sample sizes, could be subject to publication bias, and may rely on less than ideal self-reporting methods.
Why Was This Study Done?
The public health ramifications of understanding the interaction between genetic susceptibility to obesity and physical activity are considerable. Tackling the rising prevalence of obesity will inevitably include interventions principally aimed at changing dietary intake and/or increasing physical activity, but the evidence for these with regards to those genetically susceptible has been lacking to date. The authors of this paper set out to explore the interaction between the commonest genetic susceptibility trait and physical activity using a rigorous meta-analysis of a large number of studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The authors were concerned that a meta-analysis of published studies would be limited both by the data available to them and by possible bias. Instead of this more widely used approach, they took the literature search as their starting point, identified other studies through their collaborators’ network, and then undertook a meta-analysis of all available studies using a new and standardized analysis plan. This entailed an extremely large number of authors mining their data afresh to extract the relevant data points to enable such a meta-analysis. Physical activity was identified in the original studies in many different ways, including by self-report or by using an external measure of activity or heart rate. In order to perform the meta-analysis, participants were labeled as physically active or inactive in each study. For studies that had used a continuous scale, the authors decided that the bottom 20% of the participants were inactive (10% for children and adolescents). Using data from over 218,000 adults, the authors found that carrying a copy of the susceptibility gene increased the odds of obesity by 1.23-fold. But the size of this influence was 27% less in the genetically susceptible adults who were physically active (1.22-fold) compared to those who were physically inactive (1.30-fold). In a smaller study of about 19,000 children, no such effect of physical activity was seen.
What Do these Findings Mean?
This study demonstrates that people who carry the susceptibility gene for obesity can benefit from physical activity. This should inform health care professionals and the wider public that the view of genetically determined obesity not being amenable to exercise is incorrect and should be challenged. Dissemination, implementation, and ensuring uptake of effective physical activity programs remains a challenge and deserves further consideration. That the researchers treated “physically active” as a yes/no category, and how they categorized individuals, could be criticized, but this was done for pragmatic reasons, as a variety of means of assessing physical activity were used across the studies. It is unlikely that the findings would have changed if the authors had used a different method of defining physically active. Most of the studies included in the meta-analysis looked at one time point only; information about the influence of physical activity on weight changes over time in genetically susceptible individuals is only beginning to emerge.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001116.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Lennert Veerman
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides obesity-related statistics, details of prevention programs, and an overview on public health strategy in the United States
A more worldwide view is given by the World Health Organization
The UK National Health Service website gives information on physical activity guidelines for different age groups, while similar information can also be found from US sources
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001116
PMCID: PMC3206047  PMID: 22069379
10.  Genetic Markers of Adult Obesity Risk Are Associated with Greater Early Infancy Weight Gain and Growth 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(5):e1000284.
Ken Ong and colleagues genotyped children from the ALSPAC birth cohort and showed an association between greater early infancy gains in weight and length and genetic markers for adult obesity risk.
Background
Genome-wide studies have identified several common genetic variants that are robustly associated with adult obesity risk. Exploration of these genotype associations in children may provide insights into the timing of weight changes leading to adult obesity.
Methods and Findings
Children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) birth cohort were genotyped for ten genetic variants previously associated with adult BMI. Eight variants that showed individual associations with childhood BMI (in/near: FTO, MC4R, TMEM18, GNPDA2, KCTD15, NEGR1, BDNF, and ETV5) were used to derive an “obesity-risk-allele score” comprising the total number of risk alleles (range: 2–15 alleles) in each child with complete genotype data (n = 7,146). Repeated measurements of weight, length/height, and body mass index from birth to age 11 years were expressed as standard deviation scores (SDS). Early infancy was defined as birth to age 6 weeks, and early infancy failure to thrive was defined as weight gain between below the 5th centile, adjusted for birth weight. The obesity-risk-allele score showed little association with birth weight (regression coefficient: 0.01 SDS per allele; 95% CI 0.00–0.02), but had an apparently much larger positive effect on early infancy weight gain (0.119 SDS/allele/year; 0.023–0.216) than on subsequent childhood weight gain (0.004 SDS/allele/year; 0.004–0.005). The obesity-risk-allele score was also positively associated with early infancy length gain (0.158 SDS/allele/year; 0.032–0.284) and with reduced risk of early infancy failure to thrive (odds ratio  = 0.92 per allele; 0.86–0.98; p = 0.009).
Conclusions
The use of robust genetic markers identified greater early infancy gains in weight and length as being on the pathway to adult obesity risk in a contemporary birth cohort.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
The proportion of overweight and obese children is increasing across the globe. In the US, the Surgeon General estimates that, compared with 1980, twice as many children and three times the number of adolescents are now overweight. Worldwide, 22 million children under five years old are considered by the World Health Organization to be overweight.
Being overweight or obese in childhood is associated with poor physical and mental health. In addition, childhood obesity is considered a major risk factor for adult obesity, which is itself a major risk factor for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and other chronic conditions.
The most commonly used measure of whether an adult is a healthy weight is body mass index (BMI), defined as weight in kilograms/(height in metres)2. However, adult categories of obese (>30) and overweight (>25) BMI are not directly applicable to children, whose BMI naturally varies as they grow. BMI can be used to screen children for being overweight and or obese but a diagnosis requires further information.
Why Was This Study Done?
As the numbers of obese and overweight children increase, a corresponding rise in future numbers of overweight and obese adults is also expected. This in turn is expected to lead to an increasing incidence of poor health. As a result, there is great interest among health professionals in possible pathways between childhood and adult obesity. It has been proposed that certain periods in childhood may be critical for the development of obesity.
In the last few years, ten genetic variants have been found to be more common in overweight or obese adults. Eight of these have also been linked to childhood BMI and/or obesity. The authors wanted to identify the timing of childhood weight changes that may be associated with adult obesity. Knowledge of obesity risk genetic variants gave them an opportunity to do so now, without following a set of children to adulthood.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The authors analysed data gathered from a subset of 7,146 singleton white European children enrolled in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) study, which is investigating associations between genetics, lifestyle, and health outcomes for a group of children in Bristol whose due date of birth fell between April 1991 and December 1992. They used knowledge of the children's genetic makeup to find associations between an obesity risk allele score—a measure of how many of the obesity risk genetic variants a child possessed—and the children's weight, height, BMI, levels of body fat (at nine years old), and rate of weight gain, up to age 11 years.
They found that, at birth, children with a higher obesity risk allele score were not any heavier, but in the immediate postnatal period they were less likely to be in the bottom 5% of the population for weight gain (adjusted for birthweight), often termed “failure to thrive.” At six weeks of age, children with a higher obesity risk allele score tended to be longer and heavier, even allowing for weight at birth.
After six weeks of age, the obesity risk allele score was not associated with any further increase in length/height, but it was associated with a more rapid weight gain between birth and age 11 years. BMI is derived from height and weight measurements, and the association between the obesity risk allele score and BMI was weak between birth and age three-and-a-half years, but after that age the association with BMI increased rapidly. By age nine, children with a higher obesity risk allele score tended to be heavier and taller, with more fat on their bodies.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The combined obesity allele risk score is associated with higher rates of weight gain and adult obesity, and so the authors conclude that weight gain and growth even in the first few weeks after birth may be the beginning of a pathway of greater adult obesity risk.
A study that tracks a population over time can find associations but it cannot show cause and effect. In addition, only a relatively small proportion (1.7%) of the variation in BMI at nine years of age is explained by the obesity risk allele score.
The authors' method of finding associations between childhood events and adult outcomes via genetic markers of risk of disease as an adult has a significant advantage: the authors did not have to follow the children themselves to adulthood, so their findings are more likely to be relevant to current populations. Despite this, this research does not yield advice for parents how to reduce their children's obesity risk. It does suggest that “failure to thrive” in the first six weeks of life is not simply due to a lack of provision of food by the baby's caregiver but that genetic factors also contribute to early weight gain and growth.
The study looked at the combined obesity risk allele score and the authors did not attempt to identify which individual alleles have greater or weaker associations with weight gain and overweight or obesity. This would require further research based on far larger numbers of babies and children. The findings may also not be relevant to children in other types of setting because of the effects of different nutrition and lifestyles.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000284.
Further information is available on the ALSPAC study
The UK National Health Service and other partners provide guidance on establishing a healthy lifestyle for children and families in their Change4Life programme
The International Obesity Taskforce is a global network of expertise and the advocacy arm of the International Association for the Study of Obesity. It works with the World Health Organization, other NGOs, and stakeholders and provides information on overweight and obesity
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US provide guidance and tips on maintaining a healthy weight, including BMI calculators in both metric and Imperial measurements for both adults and children. They also provide BMI growth charts for boys and girls showing how healthy ranges vary for each sex at with age
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health provides growth charts for weight and length/height from birth to age 4 years that are based on WHO 2006 growth standards and have been adapted for use in the UK
The CDC Web site provides information on overweight and obesity in adults and children, including definitions, causes, and data
The CDC also provide information on the role of genes in causing obesity.
The World Health Organization publishes a fact sheet on obesity, overweight and weight management, including links to childhood overweight and obesity
Wikipedia includes an article on childhood obesity (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000284
PMCID: PMC2876048  PMID: 20520848
11.  Bone Mineral Density-Associated Polymorphisms Are Associated with Obesity-Related Traits in Korean Adults in a Sex-Dependent Manner 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e53013.
Obesity and osteoporosis share common physiological factors, including the presence of atherosclerosis, a risk factor for cardiometabolic disease, as well as a common progenitor that differentiates into both adipocytes and osteoblasts. Among the 23 polymorphisms associated with bone mineral density (BMD) in recent genome-wide association studies (GWASs), an Osterix polymorphism has been identified and associated with childhood obesity in girls. Therefore, we focused on elucidating polymorphisms associated with adulthood obesity in a sex-dependent manner among the previously published BMD-associated polymorphisms from GWASs. We performed 2 screenings of 18 BMD-associated polymorphisms for obesity-related traits in 2,362 adults aged >20 years. We excluded 13 polymorphisms showing deviations from Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium or no association with obesity-related traits (body mass index, waist circumference (WC), and waist-to-hip ratio). Among 5 selected polymorphisms (rs9594738 of RANKL, rs17066364 of NUFIP1, rs7227401 of OSBPL1A, and rs1856057 and rs2982573 of ESR1) analyzed, 2 polymorphisms (rs9594738 and rs17066364) were associated with obesity-related traits. We found sex-dependent associations such that the 4 polymorphisms (excluding rs9594738 of RANKL) were associated with abdominal traits such as WC and waist-to-hip ratio only in men. In addition, when the combined genetic risk score (GRS) for WC increase was calculated with 4 SNPs (rs9594738, rs17066364, rs7227401, and rs1856057) exhibiting similar trends for both sexes, the magnitude of the GRS effect for the WC increase was larger in men than in women (effect size = 0.856 cm, P = 0.0000452 for men; effect size = 0.598 cm, P = 0.00228 for women). In summary, we found 4 polymorphisms, previously related to osteoporosis, to be associated to obesity-related traits in a sex-dependent manner in Korean adults, particularly in men.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053013
PMCID: PMC3531417  PMID: 23300848
12.  Evaluation of common genetic variants identified by GWAS for early onset and morbid obesity in population-based samples 
Background
Meta-analysis of case-control genome wide association studies (GWAS) for early onset and morbid obesity identified four variants in/near the PRL, PTER, MAF and NPC1 genes.
Objective
We aimed to validate association of these variants with obesity-related traits in population-based samples.
Design
Genotypes and anthropometric traits were available in up to 31 083 adults from the Fenland, EPIC-Norfolk, Whitehall II, Ely and Hertfordshire studies and in 2 042 children and adolescents from the European Youth Heart Study. In each study, we tested associations of rs4712652 (near-PRL), rs10508503 (near-PTER), rs1424233 (near-MAF) and rs1805081 (NPC1), or proxy variants (r2>0.8), with the odds of being overweight and obese, as well as with BMI, percentage body fat (%BF) and waist circumference (WC). Associations were adjusted for sex, age and age2 in adults and for sex, age, age-group, country and maturity in children and adolescents. Summary statistics were combined using fixed effects meta-analysis methods.
Results
We had 80% power to detect ORs of 1.046 to 1.092 for overweight and 1.067 to 1.136 for obesity. Variants near PRL, PTER and MAF were not associated with the odds of being overweight or obese, or with BMI, %BF or WC after meta-analysis (P > 0.15). The NPC1 variant rs1805081 showed some evidence of association with %BF (beta=0.013 SD/allele, P =0.040), but not with any of the remaining obesity-related traits (P >0.3).
Conclusion
Overall, these variants, which were identified in a GWAS for early onset and morbid obesity, do not seem to influence obesity-related traits in the general population.
doi:10.1038/ijo.2012.34
PMCID: PMC3680864  PMID: 22430306
Obesity-susceptibility loci; genome-wide association; morbid; early-onset; anthropometric traits; children and adolescents; population-based
13.  Causal Relationship between Obesity and Vitamin D Status: Bi-Directional Mendelian Randomization Analysis of Multiple Cohorts 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(2):e1001383.
A mendelian randomization study based on data from multiple cohorts conducted by Karani Santhanakrishnan Vimaleswaran and colleagues re-examines the causal nature of the relationship between vitamin D levels and obesity.
Background
Obesity is associated with vitamin D deficiency, and both are areas of active public health concern. We explored the causality and direction of the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] using genetic markers as instrumental variables (IVs) in bi-directional Mendelian randomization (MR) analysis.
Methods and Findings
We used information from 21 adult cohorts (up to 42,024 participants) with 12 BMI-related SNPs (combined in an allelic score) to produce an instrument for BMI and four SNPs associated with 25(OH)D (combined in two allelic scores, separately for genes encoding its synthesis or metabolism) as an instrument for vitamin D. Regression estimates for the IVs (allele scores) were generated within-study and pooled by meta-analysis to generate summary effects.
Associations between vitamin D scores and BMI were confirmed in the Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits (GIANT) consortium (n = 123,864). Each 1 kg/m2 higher BMI was associated with 1.15% lower 25(OH)D (p = 6.52×10−27). The BMI allele score was associated both with BMI (p = 6.30×10−62) and 25(OH)D (−0.06% [95% CI −0.10 to −0.02], p = 0.004) in the cohorts that underwent meta-analysis. The two vitamin D allele scores were strongly associated with 25(OH)D (p≤8.07×10−57 for both scores) but not with BMI (synthesis score, p = 0.88; metabolism score, p = 0.08) in the meta-analysis. A 10% higher genetically instrumented BMI was associated with 4.2% lower 25(OH)D concentrations (IV ratio: −4.2 [95% CI −7.1 to −1.3], p = 0.005). No association was seen for genetically instrumented 25(OH)D with BMI, a finding that was confirmed using data from the GIANT consortium (p≥0.57 for both vitamin D scores).
Conclusions
On the basis of a bi-directional genetic approach that limits confounding, our study suggests that a higher BMI leads to lower 25(OH)D, while any effects of lower 25(OH)D increasing BMI are likely to be small. Population level interventions to reduce BMI are expected to decrease the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Obesity—having an unhealthy amount of body fat—is increasing worldwide. In the US, for example, a third of the adult population is now obese. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI, an indicator of body fat calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared) of more than 30.0 kg/m2. Although there is a genetic contribution to obesity, people generally become obese by consuming food and drink that contains more energy than they need for their daily activities. Thus, obesity can be prevented by having a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Compared to people with a healthy weight, obese individuals have an increased risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and tend to die younger. They also have a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency, another increasingly common public health concern. Vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones as well as other functions, is made in the skin after exposure to sunlight but can also be obtained through the diet and through supplements.
Why Was This Study Done?
Observational studies cannot prove that obesity causes vitamin D deficiency because obese individuals may share other characteristics that reduce their circulating 25-hydroxy vitamin D [25(OH)D] levels (referred to as confounding). Moreover, observational studies cannot indicate whether the larger vitamin D storage capacity of obese individuals (vitamin D is stored in fatty tissues) lowers their 25(OH)D levels or whether 25(OH)D levels influence fat accumulation (reverse causation). If obesity causes vitamin D deficiency, monitoring and treating vitamin D deficiency might alleviate some of the adverse health effects of obesity. Conversely, if low vitamin D levels cause obesity, encouraging people to take vitamin D supplements might help to control the obesity epidemic. Here, the researchers use bi-directional “Mendelian randomization” to examine the direction and causality of the relationship between BMI and 25(OH)D. In Mendelian randomization, causality is inferred from associations between genetic variants that mimic the influence of a modifiable environmental exposure and the outcome of interest. Because gene variants do not change over time and are inherited randomly, they are not prone to confounding and are free from reverse causation. Thus, if a lower vitamin D status leads to obesity, genetic variants associated with lower 25(OH)D concentrations should be associated with higher BMI, and if obesity leads to a lower vitamin D status, then genetic variants associated with higher BMI should be associated with lower 25(OH)D concentrations.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers created a “BMI allele score” based on 12 BMI-related gene variants and two “25(OH)D allele scores,” which are based on gene variants that affect either 25(OH)D synthesis or breakdown. Using information on up to 42,024 participants from 21 studies, the researchers showed that the BMI allele score was associated with both BMI and with 25(OH)D levels among the study participants. Based on this information, they calculated that each 10% increase in BMI will lead to a 4.2% decrease in 25(OH)D concentrations. By contrast, although both 25(OH)D allele scores were strongly associated with 25(OH)D levels, neither score was associated with BMI. This lack of an association between 25(OH)D allele scores and obesity was confirmed using data from more than 100,000 individuals involved in 46 studies that has been collected by the GIANT (Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits) consortium.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that a higher BMI leads to a lower vitamin D status whereas any effects of low vitamin D status on BMI are likely to be small. That is, these findings provide evidence for obesity as a causal factor in the development of vitamin D deficiency but not for vitamin D deficiency as a causal factor in the development of obesity. These findings suggest that population-level interventions to reduce obesity should lead to a reduction in the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and highlight the importance of monitoring and treating vitamin D deficiency as a means of alleviating the adverse influences of obesity on health.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001383.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on all aspects of overweight and obesity (in English and Spanish); a data brief provides information about the vitamin D status of the US population
The World Health Organization provides information on obesity (in several languages)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about obesity and a link to a personal story about losing weight; it also provides information about vitamin D
The International Obesity Taskforce provides information about the global obesity epidemic
The US Department of Agriculture's ChooseMyPlate.gov website provides a personal healthy eating plan; the Weight-control Information Network is an information service provided for the general public and health professionals by the US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (in English and Spanish)
The US Office of Dietary Supplements provides information about vitamin D (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus has links to further information about obesity and about vitamin D (in English and Spanish)
Wikipedia has a page on Mendelian randomization (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
Overview and details of the collaborative large-scale genetic association study (D-CarDia) provide information about vitamin D and the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and related traits
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001383
PMCID: PMC3564800  PMID: 23393431
14.  Neuronal Genes for Subcutaneous Fat Thickness in Human and Pig Are Identified by Local Genomic Sequencing and Combined SNP Association Study 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e16356.
Obesity represents a major global public health problem that increases the risk for cardiovascular or metabolic disease. The pigs represent an exceptional biomedical model related to energy metabolism and obesity in humans. To pinpoint causal genetic factors for a common form of obesity, we conducted local genomic de novo sequencing, 18.2 Mb, of a porcine QTL region affecting fatness traits, and carried out SNP association studies for backfat thickness and intramuscular fat content in pigs. In order to relate the association studies in pigs to human obesity, we performed a targeted genome wide association study for subcutaneous fat thickness in a cohort population of 8,842 Korean individuals. These combined association studies in human and pig revealed a significant SNP located in a gene family with sequence similarity 73, member A (FAM73A) associated with subscapular skin-fold thickness in humans (rs4121165, GC-corrected p-value  = 0.0000175) and with backfat thickness in pigs (ASGA0029495, p-value  = 0.000031). Our combined association studies also suggest that eight neuronal genes are responsible for subcutaneous fat thickness: NEGR1, SLC44A5, PDE4B, LPHN2, ELTD1, ST6GALNAC3, ST6GALNAC5, and TTLL7. These results provide strong support for a major involvement of the CNS in the genetic predisposition to a common form of obesity.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016356
PMCID: PMC3032728  PMID: 21311593
15.  An integrated approach of comparative genomics and heritability analysis of pig and human on obesity trait: evidence for candidate genes on human chromosome 2 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:711.
Background
Traditional candidate gene approach has been widely used for the study of complex diseases including obesity. However, this approach is largely limited by its dependence on existing knowledge of presumed biology of the phenotype under investigation. Our combined strategy of comparative genomics and chromosomal heritability estimate analysis of obesity traits, subscapular skinfold thickness and back-fat thickness in Korean cohorts and pig (Sus scrofa), may overcome the limitations of candidate gene analysis and allow us to better understand genetic predisposition to human obesity.
Results
We found common genes including FTO, the fat mass and obesity associated gene, identified from significant SNPs by association studies of each trait. These common genes were related to blood pressure and arterial stiffness (P = 1.65E-05) and type 2 diabetes (P = 0.00578). Through the estimation of variance of genetic component (heritability) for each chromosome by SNPs, we observed a significant positive correlation (r = 0.479) between genetic contributions of human and pig to obesity traits. Furthermore, we noted that human chromosome 2 (syntenic to pig chromosomes 3 and 15) was most important in explaining the phenotypic variance for obesity.
Conclusions
Obesity genetics still awaits further discovery. Navigating syntenic regions suggests obesity candidate genes on chromosome 2 that are previously known to be associated with obesity-related diseases: MRPL33, PARD3B, ERBB4, STK39, and ZNF385B.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-711
PMCID: PMC3562524  PMID: 23253381
Obesity; Synteny; Comparative genomics; Heritability; Back-fat thickness; Subscapular skinfold thickness; Chromosome 2; Pig; Human
16.  Implications of Central Obesity-Related Variants in LYPLAL1, NRXN3, MSRA, and TFAP2B on Quantitative Metabolic Traits in Adult Danes 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20640.
Background
Two meta-analyses of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have suggested that four variants: rs2605100 in lysophospholipase-like 1 (LYPLAL1), rs10146997 in neuroxin 3 (NRXN3), rs545854 in methionine sulfoxide reductase A (MSRA), and rs987237 in transcription factor activating enhancer-binding protein 2 beta (TFAP2B) associate with measures of central obesity.
To elucidate potential underlying phenotypes we aimed to investigate whether these variants associated with: 1) quantitative metabolic traits, 2) anthropometric measures (waist circumference (WC), waist-hip ratio, and BMI), or 3) type 2 diabetes, and central and general overweight and obesity.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The four variants were genotyped in Danish individuals using KASPar®. Quantitative metabolic traits were examined in a population-based sample (n = 6,038) and WC and BMI were furthermore analyzed in a combined study sample (n = 13,507). Case-control studies of diabetes and adiposity included 15,326 individuals. The major G-allele of LYPLAL1 rs2605100 associated with increased fasting serum triglyceride concentrations (per allele effect (β) = 3%(1;5(95%CI)), padditive = 2.7×10−3), an association driven by the male gender (pinteraction = 0.02). The same allele associated with increased fasting serum insulin concentrations (β = 3%(1;5), padditive = 2.5×10−3) and increased insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) (β = 4%(1;6), padditive = 1.5×10−3). The minor G-allele of rs10146997 in NRXN3 associated with increased WC among women (β = 0.55cm (0.20;0.89), padditive = 1.7×10−3, pinteraction = 1.0×10−3), but showed no associations with obesity related metabolic traits. The MSRA rs545854 and TFAP2B rs987237 showed nominal associations with central obesity; however, no underlying metabolic phenotypes became obvious, when investigating quantitative metabolic traits. None of the variants influenced the prevalence of type 2 diabetes.
Conclusion/Significance
We demonstrate that several of the central obesity-associated variants in LYPLAL1, NRXN3, MSRA, and TFAP2B associate with metabolic and anthropometric traits in Danish adults. However, analyses were made without adjusting for multiple testing, and further studies are needed to confirm the putative role of LYPLAL1, NRXN3, MSRA, and TFAP2B in the pathophysiology of obesity.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020640
PMCID: PMC3107232  PMID: 21674055
17.  Two New Loci for Body-Weight Regulation Identified in a Joint Analysis of Genome-Wide Association Studies for Early-Onset Extreme Obesity in French and German Study Groups 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(4):e1000916.
Meta-analyses of population-based genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in adults have recently led to the detection of new genetic loci for obesity. Here we aimed to discover additional obesity loci in extremely obese children and adolescents. We also investigated if these results generalize by estimating the effects of these obesity loci in adults and in population-based samples including both children and adults. We jointly analysed two GWAS of 2,258 individuals and followed-up the best, according to lowest p-values, 44 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) from 21 genomic regions in 3,141 individuals. After this DISCOVERY step, we explored if the findings derived from the extremely obese children and adolescents (10 SNPs from 5 genomic regions) generalized to (i) the population level and (ii) to adults by genotyping another 31,182 individuals (GENERALIZATION step). Apart from previously identified FTO, MC4R, and TMEM18, we detected two new loci for obesity: one in SDCCAG8 (serologically defined colon cancer antigen 8 gene; p = 1.85×10−8 in the DISCOVERY step) and one between TNKS (tankyrase, TRF1-interacting ankyrin-related ADP-ribose polymerase gene) and MSRA (methionine sulfoxide reductase A gene; p = 4.84×10−7), the latter finding being limited to children and adolescents as demonstrated in the GENERALIZATION step. The odds ratios for early-onset obesity were estimated at ∼1.10 per risk allele for both loci. Interestingly, the TNKS/MSRA locus has recently been found to be associated with adult waist circumference. In summary, we have completed a meta-analysis of two GWAS which both focus on extremely obese children and adolescents and replicated our findings in a large followed-up data set. We observed that genetic variants in or near FTO, MC4R, TMEM18, SDCCAG8, and TNKS/MSRA were robustly associated with early-onset obesity. We conclude that the currently known major common variants related to obesity overlap to a substantial degree between children and adults.
Author Summary
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have successfully contributed to the detection of genetic variants involved in body-weight regulation. We jointly analysed two GWAS for early-onset extreme obesity in 2,258 individuals of European origin and followed-up the findings in 3,141 individuals. Evidence for association of markers in two new genetic loci was shown (SDCCAG8 on chromosome 1q43–q44 and between TNKS/MSRA on chromosome 8p23.1). We also re-identified variants in or near FTO, MC4R, and TMEM18 to be associated with extreme obesity. In addition, we assessed the effect of the markers in 31,182 obese, lean, normal weight, and unselected individuals from population-based samples and showed that the variants near FTO, MC4R, TMEM18, and SDCCAG8 were consistently associated with obesity. For variants of TNKS/MSRA, the obesity association was limited to children and adolescents. In summary, we detected two new obesity loci and confirmed that the currently known major common variants related to obesity overlap to a substantial degree between children and adults.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000916
PMCID: PMC2858696  PMID: 20421936
18.  Genetic association analysis of vitamin D pathway with obesity traits 
Objective
Observational studies have examined the link between vitamin D deficiency and obesity traits. Some studies have reported associations between vitamin D pathway genes such as VDR, GC and CYP27B1 with body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC); however, the findings have been inconsistent. Hence, we investigated the involvement of vitamin D metabolic pathway genes in obesity-related traits in a large population-based study.
Methods
We undertook a comprehensive analysis between 100 tagging polymorphisms (tagSNPs) in genes encoding for DHCR7, CYP2R1, VDBP, CYP27B1, CYP27A1, CYP24A1, VDR and RXRG and obesity traits in 5,224 participants (aged 45 years) in the 1958 British birth cohort (1958BC). We further extended our analyses to investigate the associations between SNPs and obesity traits using the summary statistics from the GIANT (Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits) consortium (n=123,865).
Results
In the 1958BC (n=5,224), after Bonferroni correction, none of the tagSNPs were associated with obesity traits except for one tagSNP from CYP24A1 that was associated with waist-hip ratio (WHR) (rs2296239, P=0.001). However, the CYP24A1 SNP was not associated with BMI-adjusted WHR (WHRadj) in the 1958BC (rs2296239, P=1.00) and GIANT results (n=123,865, P=0.18). There was also no evidence for an interaction between the tagSNPs and obesity on BMI, WC, WHR and WHRadj in the 1958BC. In the GIANT consortium, none of the tagSNPs were associated with obesity traits.
Conclusions
Despite a very large study, our findings suggest that the vitamin D pathway genes are unlikely to have a major role in obesity-related traits in the general population.
doi:10.1038/ijo.2013.6
PMCID: PMC3763965  PMID: 23381556
Vitamin D pathway; 1958 British birth cohort; tagSNPs; obesity; GIANT; BMI
19.  A Genome-Wide Association Study Reveals Variants in ARL15 that Influence Adiponectin Levels 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(12):e1000768.
The adipocyte-derived protein adiponectin is highly heritable and inversely associated with risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) and coronary heart disease (CHD). We meta-analyzed 3 genome-wide association studies for circulating adiponectin levels (n = 8,531) and sought validation of the lead single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 5 additional cohorts (n = 6,202). Five SNPs were genome-wide significant in their relationship with adiponectin (P≤5×10−8). We then tested whether these 5 SNPs were associated with risk of T2D and CHD using a Bonferroni-corrected threshold of P≤0.011 to declare statistical significance for these disease associations. SNPs at the adiponectin-encoding ADIPOQ locus demonstrated the strongest associations with adiponectin levels (P-combined = 9.2×10−19 for lead SNP, rs266717, n = 14,733). A novel variant in the ARL15 (ADP-ribosylation factor-like 15) gene was associated with lower circulating levels of adiponectin (rs4311394-G, P-combined = 2.9×10−8, n = 14,733). This same risk allele at ARL15 was also associated with a higher risk of CHD (odds ratio [OR] = 1.12, P = 8.5×10−6, n = 22,421) more nominally, an increased risk of T2D (OR = 1.11, P = 3.2×10−3, n = 10,128), and several metabolic traits. Expression studies in humans indicated that ARL15 is well-expressed in skeletal muscle. These findings identify a novel protein, ARL15, which influences circulating adiponectin levels and may impact upon CHD risk.
Author Summary
Through a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of 14,733 individuals, we identified common base-pair variants in the genome which influence circulating adiponectin levels. Since adiponectin is an adipocyte-derived circulating protein which has been inversely associated with risk of obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes (T2D) and coronary heart disease (CHD), we next sought to understand if the identified variants influencing adiponectin levels also influence risk of T2D, CHD, and several metabolic traits. In addition to confirming that variation at the ADIPOQ locus influences adiponectin levels, our analyses point to a variant in the ARL15 (ADP-ribosylation factor-like 15) locus which decreases adiponectin levels and increases risk of CHD and T2D. Further, this same variant was associated with increased fasting insulin levels and glycated hemoglobin. While the function of ARL15 is not known, we provide insight into the tissue specificity of ARL15 expression. These results thus provide novel insights into the physiology of the adiponectin pathway and obesity-related diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000768
PMCID: PMC2781107  PMID: 20011104
20.  Analysis of the contribution of FTO, NPC1, ENPP1, NEGR1, GNPDA2 and MC4R genes to obesity in Mexican children 
BMC Medical Genetics  2013;14:21.
Background
Recent genome wide association studies (GWAS) and previous positional linkage studies have identified more than 50 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with obesity, mostly in Europeans. We aimed to assess the contribution of some of these SNPs to obesity risk and to the variation of related metabolic traits, in Mexican children.
Methods
The association of six European obesity-related SNPs in or near FTO, NPC1, ENPP1, NEGR1, GNPDA2 and MC4R genes with risk of obesity was tested in 1,463 school-aged Mexican children (Ncases = 514; Ncontrols = 949). We also assessed effects of these SNPs on the variation of body mass index (BMI), fasting serum insulin levels, fasting plasma glucose levels, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, in a subset of 1,171 nonobese Mexican children.
Results
We found a significant effect of GNPDA2 rs10938397 on risk of obesity (odds ratio [OR] = 1.30; P = 1.34 × 10-3). Furthermore, we found nominal associations between obesity risk or BMI variation and the following SNPs: ENPP1 rs7754561, MC4R rs17782313 and NEGR1 rs2815752. Importantly, the at-risk alleles of both MC4R rs17782313 and NPC1 rs1805081 showed significant effect on increased fasting glucose levels (β = 0.36 mmol/L; P = 1.47 × 10-3) and decreased fasting serum insulin levels (β = −0.10 μU/mL; P = 1.21 × 10-3), respectively.
Conclusion
Our present results suggest that some obesity-associated SNPs previously reported in Europeans also associate with risk of obesity, or metabolic quantitative traits, in Mexican children. Importantly, we found new associations between MC4R and fasting glucose levels, and between NPC1 and fasting insulin levels.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-14-21
PMCID: PMC3577489  PMID: 23375129
Obesity; Mexican children; Single nucleotide polymorphism
21.  Complex Genetics of Obesity in Mouse Models 
Annual review of nutrition  2008;28:331-345.
Traits related to energy balance and obesity are exceptionally complex, with varying contributions of genetic susceptibility and interacting environmental factors. The use of mouse models has been a powerful driving force in understanding the genetic architecture of polygenic traits such as obesity. However, the use of mouse models for analysis of complex traits is at an important crossroad. Genome-wide association studies in humans are now leading to direct identification of obesity genes. In this review, we focus on three areas representing the current and future roles of mouse models regarding genetics of complex obesity. First, we summarize increasingly powerful ways to harness the strength of mouse models for discovery of genes affecting polygenic obesity. Second, we examine the status of using a systems biology approach to dissect the genetic architecture of obesity. And third, we explore the effects of recent findings indicating increasing levels of complexity in the nature of variation underlying, and the heritability of, complex traits such as obesity.
doi:10.1146/annurev.nutr.27.061406.093552
PMCID: PMC2758097  PMID: 18435591
systems genetics; QTL; eQTL; collaborative cross; genetic variation
22.  Associations of Six Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in Obesity-Related Genes With BMI and Risk of Obesity in Chinese Children 
Diabetes  2010;59(12):3085-3089.
OBJECTIVE
Childhood obesity strongly predisposes to some adult diseases. Recently, genome-wide association (GWA) studies in Caucasians identified multiple single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with BMI and obesity. The associations of those SNPs with BMI and obesity among other ethnicities are not fully described, especially in children. Among those previously identified SNPs, we selected six (rs7138803, rs1805081, rs6499640, rs17782313, rs6265, and rs10938397, in or near obesity-related genes FAIM2, NPC1, FTO, MC4R, BDNF, and GNPDA2, respectively) because of the relatively high minor allele frequencies in Chinese individuals and tested the associations of the SNPs with BMI and obesity in Chinese children.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We investigated the associations of these SNPs with BMI and obesity in school-aged children. A total of 3,503 children participated in the study, including 1,229 obese, 655 overweight, and 1,619 normal-weight children (diagnosed by the Chinese age- and sex-specific BMI cutoffs).
RESULTS
After age and sex adjustment and correction for multiple testing, the SNPs rs17782313, rs6265, and rs10938397 were associated with BMI (P = 1.0 × 10−5, 0.038, and 0.00093, respectively) and also obesity (P = 5.0 × 10−6, 0.043, and 0.00085, respectively) in the Chinese children. The SNPs rs17782313 and rs10938397 were also significantly associated with waist circumference, waist-to-height ratio, and fat mass percentage.
CONCLUSIONS
Results of this study support obesity-related genes in adults as important genes for BMI variation in children and suggest that some SNPs identified by GWA studies in Caucasians also confer risk for obesity in Chinese children.
doi:10.2337/db10-0273
PMCID: PMC2992769  PMID: 20843981
23.  Systems genetics analysis of body weight and energy metabolism traits in Drosophila melanogaster 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:297.
Background
Obesity and phenotypic traits associated with this condition exhibit significant heritability in natural populations of most organisms. While a number of genes and genetic pathways have been implicated to play a role in obesity associated traits, the genetic architecture that underlies the natural variation in these traits is largely unknown. Here, we used 40 wild-derived inbred lines of Drosophila melanogaster to quantify genetic variation in body weight, the content of three major metabolites (glycogen, triacylglycerol, and glycerol) associated with obesity, and metabolic rate in young flies. We chose these lines because they were previously screened for variation in whole-genome transcript abundance and in several adult life-history traits, including longevity, resistance to starvation stress, chill-coma recovery, mating behavior, and competitive fitness. This enabled us not only to identify candidate genes and transcriptional networks that might explain variation for energy metabolism traits, but also to investigate the genetic interrelationships among energy metabolism, behavioral, and life-history traits that have evolved in natural populations.
Results
We found significant genetically based variation in all traits. Using a genome-wide association screen for single feature polymorphisms and quantitative trait transcripts, we identified 337, 211, 237, 553, and 152 novel candidate genes associated with body weight, glycogen content, triacylglycerol storage, glycerol levels, and metabolic rate, respectively. Weighted gene co-expression analyses grouped transcripts associated with each trait in significant modules of co-expressed genes and we interpreted these modules in terms of their gene enrichment based on Gene Ontology analysis. Comparison of gene co-expression modules for traits in this study with previously determined modules for life-history traits identified significant modular pleiotropy between glycogen content, body weight, competitive fitness, and starvation resistance.
Conclusions
Combining a large phenotypic dataset with information on variation in genome wide transcriptional profiles has provided insight into the complex genetic architecture underlying natural variation in traits that have been associated with obesity. Our findings suggest that understanding the maintenance of genetic variation in metabolic traits in natural populations may require that we understand more fully the degree to which these traits are genetically correlated with other traits, especially those directly affecting fitness.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-297
PMCID: PMC2880307  PMID: 20459830
24.  Copy number variations associated with obesity related traits in African Americans: a joint analysis between GENOA and HyperGEN 
Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)  2012;20(12):2431-2437.
Obesity is a highly heritable trait and a growing public health problem. African Americans are a genetically diverse, yet understudied population with a high prevalence of obesity (body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 kg/m2). Recent studies based upon single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have identified genetic markers associated with obesity. However, a large proportion of the heritability of obesity remains unexplained. Copy number variation (CNV) has been cited as a possible source of missing heritability in common diseases such as obesity. We conducted a CNV genome-wide association study of BMI in two African American cohorts from GENOA and HyperGEN. We performed independent and identical association analyses in each study, then combined the results in a meta-analysis. We identified three CNVs associated with BMI, obesity, and other obesity-related traits after adjusting for multiple testing. These CNVs overlap the PARK2, GYPA and SGCZ genes. Our results suggest that CNV may play a role in the etiology of obesity in African Americans.
doi:10.1038/oby.2012.162
PMCID: PMC3484176  PMID: 22836685
Obesity; CNVs; Meta-analysis; BMI; African Americans
25.  Common rs7138803 variant of FAIM2 and obesity in Han Chinese 
Background
Obesity causes severe healthcare problem worldwide leading to numerous diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes mellitus. Previous Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) identified an association between a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs7138803, on chromosome 12q13 and obesity in European Caucasians. Since the genetic architecture governing the obesity may vary among different populations, we investigate the variant rs7138803 in Chinese population to find out whether it is associated with obesity.
Methods
A population-based cohort association study was carried out using the High Resolution Melt (HRM) method with 1851 participants. The association between rs7138803 genotypes and body mass index (BMI) was modeled with a general linear model, and a case–control study for the association between rs7138803 genotypes and obesity was performed using Pearson’s χ2 test. There was no indication of a deviation from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (HWE p value = 0.51) in our sample.
Results
No association was detected between SNP rs7138803 and BMI in our Chinese Han population with a P value of 0.51. SNP rs7138803 was found to be not associated with common forms of obesity after adjusting for age and sex in the Chinese population. SNP rs7138803 was not associated with other obesity related traits, including T2DM, hypertension, lipid profiles, and ischemic stroke.
Conclusion
Our data suggest that the rs7138803 exerts no significant effect on obesity in Chinese Han population. Larger cohorts may be more appropriate to detect an effect of this SNP on common obesity.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-13-56
PMCID: PMC3765134  PMID: 23924573
FAIM2; Single nucleotide polymorphism; Obesity susceptibility

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