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1.  An FTO variant is associated with Type 2 diabetes in South Asian populations after accounting for body mass index and waist circumference 
Aims
A common variant, rs9939609, in the FTO (fat mass and obesity) gene is associated with adiposity in Europeans, explaining its relationship with diabetes. However, data are inconsistent in South Asians. Our aim was to investigate the association of the FTO rs9939609 variant with obesity, obesity-related traits and Type 2 diabetes in South Asian individuals, and to use meta-analyses to attempt to clarify to what extent BMI influences the association of FTO variants with diabetes in South Asians.
Methods
We analysed rs9939609 in two studies of Pakistani individuals: 1666 adults aged ≥ 40 years from the Karachi population-based Control of Blood Pressure and Risk Attenuation (COBRA) study and 2745 individuals of Punjabi ancestry who were part of a Type 2 diabetes case–control study (UK Asian Diabetes Study/Diabetes Genetics in Pakistan; UKADS/DGP). The main outcomes were BMI, waist circumference and diabetes. Regression analyses were performed to determine associations between FTO alleles and outcomes. Summary estimates were combined in a meta-analysis of 8091 South Asian individuals (3919 patients with Type 2 diabetes and 4172 control subjects), including those from two previous studies.
Results
In the 4411 Pakistani individuals from this study, the age-, sex- and diabetes-adjusted association of FTO variant rs9939609 with BMI was 0.45 (95% CI 0.24–0.67) kg/m2 per A-allele (P = 3.0× 10−5) and with waist circumference was 0.88 (95% CI 0.36–1.41) cm per A-allele (P = 0.001). The A-allele (30% frequency) was also significantly associated with Type 2 diabetes [per A-allele odds ratio (95% CI) 1.18 (1.07–1.30); P = 0.0009]. A meta-analysis of four South Asian studies with 8091 subjects showed that the FTO A-allele predisposes to Type 2 diabetes [1.22 (95% CI 1.14–1.31); P = 1.07× 10−8] even after adjusting for BMI [1.18 (95% CI 1.10–1.27); P = 1.02× 10−5] or waist circumference [1.18 (95% CI 1.10–1.27); P = 3.97× 10−5].
Conclusions
The strong association between FTO genotype and BMI and waist circumference in South Asians is similar to that observed in Europeans. In contrast, the strong association of FTO genotype with diabetes is only partly accounted for by BMI.
doi:10.1111/j.1464-5491.2011.03257.x
PMCID: PMC3095685  PMID: 21294771
2.  FTO Gene Variants are Strongly Associated with Type 2 Diabetes but only weakly with Obesity in South Asian Indians 
Diabetologia  2008;52(2):247-252.
Background
Variants in FTO (fat mass and obesity associated) gene are associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D) in white Europeans. These associations are not consistent in Asians and there are few reports in South Asian Indians who develop T2D at a much lower body mass index (BMI) than that in the white Europeans.
Aims and hypothesis
We studied the association of FTO variants with T2D and measures of obesity in South Asian Indians in Pune, India.
Methods
We genotyped by sequencing, two SNPs rs9939609 and rs7191344, in the FTO gene in 1453 type 2 diabetes patients and 1361 controls and a further 961 population based individuals from India .
Results
We observed a strong association of the minor allele A at rs9939609 with T2D (OR per allele =1.26 [95% CI, 1.13-1.40], P=3×10-5). The variant was also associated with BMI but this association appeared to be weaker (0.06SDs; 95%CIs:0.01-0.10, p=0.017) than the previously reported effect in Europeans (0.10SDs 95%CIs:0.09-0.12). Unlike in the Europeans, the association with T2D remained when adjusting for BMI (OR per allele for T2D=1.21 (95% CI, 1.06-1.37); P=4.0 × 10-3). Similar results were obtained when using waist circumference and other anthropometric parameters.
Conclusions
Our study replicates the strong association of FTO variants with type 2 diabetes in South Asian Indians but suggests that the association of FTO with T2D in them might operate through mechanisms other than obesity. This could imply a fundamental difference between Indians and Europeans in the mechanisms linking body size with T2D.
doi:10.1007/s00125-008-1186-6
PMCID: PMC2658005  PMID: 19005641
FTO; type 2 diabetes mellitus; polymorphisms; ethnicity; body mass index
3.  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
4.  Association between Common Variation at the FTO Locus and Changes in Body Mass Index from Infancy to Late Childhood: The Complex Nature of Genetic Association through Growth and Development 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(2):e1001307.
An age-dependent association between variation at the FTO locus and BMI in children has been suggested. We meta-analyzed associations between the FTO locus (rs9939609) and BMI in samples, aged from early infancy to 13 years, from 8 cohorts of European ancestry. We found a positive association between additional minor (A) alleles and BMI from 5.5 years onwards, but an inverse association below age 2.5 years. Modelling median BMI curves for each genotype using the LMS method, we found that carriers of minor alleles showed lower BMI in infancy, earlier adiposity rebound (AR), and higher BMI later in childhood. Differences by allele were consistent with two independent processes: earlier AR equivalent to accelerating developmental age by 2.37% (95% CI 1.87, 2.87, p = 10−20) per A allele and a positive age by genotype interaction such that BMI increased faster with age (p = 10−23). We also fitted a linear mixed effects model to relate genotype to the BMI curve inflection points adiposity peak (AP) in infancy and AR. Carriage of two minor alleles at rs9939609 was associated with lower BMI at AP (−0.40% (95% CI: −0.74, −0.06), p = 0.02), higher BMI at AR (0.93% (95% CI: 0.22, 1.64), p = 0.01), and earlier AR (−4.72% (−5.81, −3.63), p = 10−17), supporting cross-sectional results. Overall, we confirm the expected association between variation at rs9939609 and BMI in childhood, but only after an inverse association between the same variant and BMI in infancy. Patterns are consistent with a shift on the developmental scale, which is reflected in association with the timing of AR rather than just a global increase in BMI. Results provide important information about longitudinal gene effects and about the role of FTO in adiposity. The associated shifts in developmental timing have clinical importance with respect to known relationships between AR and both later-life BMI and metabolic disease risk.
Author Summary
Variation at the FTO locus is reliably associated with BMI and adiposity-related traits, but little is still known about the effects of variation at this gene, particularly in children. We have examined a large collection of samples for which both genotypes at rs9939609 and multiple measurements of BMI are available. We observe a positive association between the minor allele (A) at rs9939609 and BMI emerging in childhood that has the characteristics of a shift in the age scale leading simultaneously to lower BMI during infancy and higher BMI in childhood. Assessed in cross section and longitudinally, we find evidence of variation at rs9939609 being associated with the timing of AR and the concert of events expected with such a change to the BMI curve. Importantly, the apparently negative association between the minor allele (A) and BMI in early life, which is then followed by an earlier AR and greater BMI in childhood, is a pattern known to be associated with both the risk of adult BMI and metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes (T2D). These findings are important in our understanding of the contribution of FTO to adiposity, but also in light of efforts to appreciate genetic effects in a lifecourse context.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1001307
PMCID: PMC3040655  PMID: 21379325
5.  FTO Polymorphisms Are Associated With Obesity but Not Diabetes Risk in Postmenopausal Women 
Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)  2008;16(11):2472-2480.
The FTO gene was recently identified as a susceptibility locus for both obesity and type 2 diabetes by whole-genome association analyses of several European populations. We tested for an association between FTO risk alleles and obesity and diabetes in a well-characterized multiethnic cohort of postmenopausal women in the United States. We genotyped two most significantly associated single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (rs9939609 and rs8050136) in intron 1 of FTO gene in a nested case–control study of 1,517 diabetes cases and 2,123 controls from the Women’s Health Initiative–Observational Study (WHI-OS). The allelic frequencies of either rs9939609 or rs8050136 differed widely across four ethnic groups. The frequency of the rare allele A of rs9939609 among controls was much lower in Asians/Pacific Islanders (17%) than in blacks (45%), whites (40%), and Hispanics (31%). We found significant associations of rs9939609 with BMI and waist circumference in white and Hispanic women, but not among black and Asian/Pacific Islander women. On average, each copy of the risk-allele A at rs9939609 was significantly associated with 0.45 kg/m2 increase in BMI (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.16–0.74; P = 0.004) and 0.97 cm increase in waist circumference (95% CI: 0.21–0.65; P = 0.0002). Similar results were observed for rs8050136. However, we found no significant genetic associations with diabetes risk, either within the full study sample or in any ethnic group. In conclusion, common genetic variants in the intron 1 of FTO gene may confer a modest susceptibility to obesity in an ethnicity-specific manner, but may be unlikely to contribute to a clinically significant diabetes risk.
doi:10.1038/oby.2008.408
PMCID: PMC2732012  PMID: 18787525
6.  Common Variant of FTO Gene, rs9939609, and Obesity in Pakistani Females 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:324093.
Numerous studies confirmed the association of FTO (fat mass and obesity associated gene) common variant, rs9939609, with obesity in European populations. However, studies in Asian populations revealed conflicting results. We examined the association of rs9939609 variant of FTO gene with obesity and obesity-related anthropometric and metabolic parameters in Pakistani population. Body weight, height, waist circumference, hip circumference, and blood pressure (BP) were measured. BMI and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) were calculated. Levels of fasting blood glucose (FBG), insulin, leptin, and leptin receptors were measured by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) was calculated. The results showed association of FTO gene, rs9939609, with obesity in females (>18 years of age). FTO minor allele increased the risk of obesity by 2.8 times (95% CI = 1.3–6.0) in females. This allele showed association with body weight, BMI, waist circumference, hip circumference, WHR, BP, plasma FBG levels, HOMA-IR, plasma insulin levels, and plasma leptin levels. In conclusion, FTO gene, rs9939609, is associated with BMI and risk of obesity in adult Pakistani females. Association of rs9939609 variant with higher FBG, plasma insulin, and leptin levels indicates that this polymorphism may disturb the metabolism in adult females and predispose them to obesity and type 2 diabetes. However, the above-mentioned findings were not seen in children or males.
doi:10.1155/2013/324093
PMCID: PMC3775403  PMID: 24102053
7.  The common rs9939609 variant of the fat mass and obesity-associated gene is associated with obesity risk in children and adolescents of Beijing, China 
BMC Medical Genetics  2010;11:107.
Background
Previous genome-wide association studies for type 2 diabetes susceptibility genes have confirmed that a common variant, rs9939609, in the fat mass and obesity associated (FTO) gene region is associated with body mass index (BMI) in European children and adults. A significant association of the same risk allele has been described in Asian adult populations, but the results are conflicting. In addition, no replication studies have been conducted in children and adolescents of Asian ancestry.
Methods
A population-based survey was carried out among 3503 children and adolescents (6-18 years of age) in Beijing, China, including 1229 obese and 2274 non-obese subjects. We investigated the association of rs9939609 with BMI and the risk of obesity. In addition, we tested the association of rs9939609 with weight, height, waist circumference, waist-to-height ratio, fat mass percentage, birth weight, blood pressure and related metabolic traits.
Results
We found significant associations of rs9939609 variant with weight, BMI, BMI standard deviation score (BMI-SDS), waist circumference, waist-to-height ratio, and fat mass percentage in children and adolescents (p for trend = 3.29 × 10-5, 1.39 × 10-6, 3.76 × 10-6, 2.26 × 10-5, 1.94 × 10-5, and 9.75 × 10-5, respectively). No significant associations were detected with height, birth weight, systolic and diastolic blood pressure and related metabolic traits such as total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and fasting plasma glucose (all p > 0.05). Each additional copy of the rs9939609 A allele was associated with a BMI increase of 0.79 [95% Confidence interval (CI) 0.47 to 1.10] kg/m2, equivalent to 0.25 (95%CI 0.14 to 0.35) BMI-SDS units. This rs9939609 variant is significantly associated with the risk of obesity under an additive model [Odds ratio (OR) = 1.29, 95% CI 1.11 to 1.50] after adjusting for age and gender. Moreover, an interaction between the FTO rs9939609 genotype and physical activity (p < 0.001) was detected on BMI levels, the effect of rs9939609-A allele on BMI being (0.95 ± 0.10), (0.77 ± 0.08) and (0.67 ± 0.05) kg/m2, for subjects who performed low, moderate and severe intensity physical activity.
Conclusion
The FTO rs9939609 variant is strongly associated with BMI and the risk of obesity in a population of children and adolescents in Beijing, China.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-11-107
PMCID: PMC2914647  PMID: 20598163
8.  Common Variants of FTO Are Associated with Childhood Obesity in a Cross-Sectional Study of 3,126 Urban Indian Children 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47772.
Background
FTO variants are robustly associated with obesity and related traits in many population and shown to have variable impact during life course. Although studies have shown association of FTO variants with adiposity in adult Indian, its association in Indian children is yet to be confirmed.
Methods
Here we examined association of FTO variants (rs9939609 and rs8050136) with obesity and related anthropometric and biochemical traits in 3,126 Indian children (aged 11–17 years) including 2,230 normal-weight and 896 over-weight/obese children. We also compared effects observed in the present study with that observed in previous studies on South Asian adults and children of other ethnic groups.
Results
The variant rs9939609 showed significant association with risk of obesity [OR = 1.21, P = 2.5×10−3] and its measures BMI, weight, waist circumference and hip circumference [β range = 0.11 to 0.14 Z-score units; P range = 1.3×10−4 to 1.6×10−7] in children. The observed effect sizes in Indian children were similar to those reported for European children. Variant rs9939609 explained 0.88% of BMI variance in Indian children. The effect sizes of rs9939609 on BMI and WC were ∼2 fold higher in children than adults. Interestingly rs9939609 was also associated with serum levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) [β = 0.10 Z-score, P = 5.8×10−3]. The other variant rs8050136 was in strong linkage disequilibrium with rs9939609 (r2 = 0.97) and provided similar association results.
Conclusion
The study provides first report of association of FTO variants with obesity and related anthropometric traits in Indian children with higher impact in children compared to adults. We also demonstrated association of FTO variant with serum levels of TSH, indicating putative influence of FTO in hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047772
PMCID: PMC3472993  PMID: 23091647
9.  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
10.  FTO and INSIG2 Genotyping Combined with Metabolic and Anthropometric Phenotyping of Morbidly Obese Patients 
Molecular Syndromology  2013;4(6):273-279.
Obesity is a major health problem worldwide. Associations of obesity with common variants of the fat mass- and obesity-associated gene (FTO) and insulin-induced gene 2 (INSIG2) have been reported in various studies. We aimed to further investigate the association of 2 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), rs9939609 in FTO and rs7566605 in INSIG2, with body mass index (BMI) and other anthropometric and metabolic parameters in subjects with morbid obesity (BMI ≥40). SNPs rs9939609 and rs7566605 were genotyped in 124 unrelated morbidly obese patients (mean BMI = 50, range 40.1-77.1) from Mainz, Germany, and in 253 normal controls without a history of morbid obesity. Metabolic and anthropometric parameters were analyzed in 109 of the 124 patients, and associations with the genotype data were examined. The high-risk AA genotype for FTO rs9939609 was observed in 32.3% of patients versus 15.8% of controls (p = 0.0004) and was associated with an increased obesity risk [odds ratio (OR) = 2.54, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.53-4.21]. The intermediate-risk AT genotype was found in patients and controls at similar frequencies (48.4 vs. 48.6%, OR = 0.99). The low-risk TT genotype for rs9939609 was found in 19.4% of patients (35.5% of controls; p = 0.0013) and was associated with a decreased risk for morbid obesity (OR = 0.43, CI = 0.26-0.73). In contrast, INSIG2 rs7566605 showed no association with obesity in our patients. Evaluation of metabolic data indicated associations between the high-risk FTO genotype (rs9939609_AA) and increased levels of serum glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase (GOT) and between the high-risk INSIG2 genotype (rs7566605_CC) and lower waist-to-hip ratio and lower hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels. Our results confirm an association of the FTO SNP with extreme obesity. However, we found no association of the potential obesity risk allele of INSIG2 in our sample and thus cannot confirm an association of the INSIG2 CC genotype with obesity. We identified an association between the high-risk FTO genotype (rs9939609_AA) and higher GOT levels, which could possibly reflect the increased frequency of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis with obesity. We also detected associations of the high-risk INSIG2 genotype (rs7566605_CC) with lower waist-to-hip ratios and lower HbA1c levels, which may indicate amelioration of impaired glucose tolerance and type 2 diabetes for patients with this genotype after bariatric surgery.
doi:10.1159/000353563
PMCID: PMC3776395  PMID: 24167462
Association; FTO; INSIG2; Metabolic and anthropometric phenotyping; Morbid obesity; SNPs
11.  FTO, Type 2 Diabetes, and Weight Gain Throughout Adult Life 
Diabetes  2011;60(5):1637-1644.
OBJECTIVE
FTO is the most important polygene identified for obesity. We aimed to investigate whether a variant in FTO affects type 2 diabetes risk entirely through its effect on BMI and how FTO influences BMI across adult life span.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Through regression models, we assessed the relationship between the FTO single nucleotide polymorphisms rs9939609, type 2 diabetes, and BMI across life span in subjects from the Norwegian population-based HUNT study using cross-sectional and longitudinal perspectives. For replication and meta-analysis, we used data from the Malmö Diet and Cancer (MDC) and Malmö Preventive Project (MPP) cohorts, comprising a total sample of 41,504 Scandinavians.
RESULTS
The meta-analysis revealed a highly significant association for rs9939609 with both type 2 diabetes (OR 1.13; P = 4.5 × 10−8) and the risk to develop incident type 2 diabetes (OR 1.16; P = 3.2 × 10−8). The associations remained also after correction for BMI and other anthropometric measures. Furthermore, we confirmed the strong effect on BMI (0.28 kg/m2 per risk allele; P = 2.0 × 10−26), with no heterogeneity between different age-groups. We found no differences in change of BMI over time according to rs9939609 risk alleles, neither overall (∆BMI = 0.0 [−0.05, 0.05]) nor in any individual age stratum, indicating no further weight gain attributable to FTO genotype in adults.
CONCLUSIONS
We have identified that a variant in FTO alters type 2 diabetes risk partly independent of its observed effect on BMI. The additional weight gain as a result of the FTO risk variant seems to occur before adulthood, and the BMI difference remains stable thereafter.
doi:10.2337/db10-1340
PMCID: PMC3292341  PMID: 21398525
12.  Associations of the FTO rs9939609 and the MC4R rs17782313 polymorphisms with type 2 diabetes are modulated by diet, being higher when adherence to the Mediterranean diet pattern is low 
Background
Although the Fat Mass and Obesity (FTO) and Melanocortin-4 Receptor (MC4R) genes have been consistently associated with obesity risk, the association between the obesity-risk alleles with type 2 diabetes is still controversial. In some recent meta-analyses in which significant results have been reported, the associations disappeared after adjustment for body mass index (BMI). However gene-diet interactions with dietary patterns have not been investigated. Our main aim was to analyze whether these associations are modulated by the level of adherence to the Mediterranean Diet (MedDiet).
Methods
Case-control study in 7,052 high cardiovascular risk subjects (3,430 type 2 diabetes cases and 3,622 non-diabetic subjects) with no differences in BMI. Diet was assessed by validated questionnaires. FTO-rs9939609 and MC4R-rs17782313 were determined. An aggregate genetic score was calculated to test additive effects. Gene-diet interactions were analyzed.
Results
Neither of the polymorphisms was associated with type 2 diabetes in the whole population. However, we found consistent gene-diet interactions with adherence to the MedDiet both for the FTO-rs9939609 (P-interaction=0.039), the MC4R-rs17782313 (P-interaction=0.009) and for their aggregate score (P-interaction=0.006). When adherence to the MedDiet was low, carriers of the variant alleles had higher type 2 diabetes risk (OR=1.21, 95%CI: 1.03-1.40; P=0.019 for FTO-rs9939609 and OR=1.17, 95%CI:1.01-1.36; P=0.035 for MC4R-rs17782313) than wild-type subjects. However, when adherence to the MedDiet was high, these associations disappeared (OR=0.97, 95%CI: 0.85-1.16; P=0.673 for FTO-rs9939609 and OR=0.89, 95%CI:0.78-1.02; P=0.097 for MC4R-rs17782313). These gene-diet interactions remained significant even after adjustment for BMI. As MedDiet is rich in folate, we also specifically examined folate intake and detected statistically significant interaction effects on fasting plasma glucose concentrations in non-diabetic subjects. However these findings should be interpreted with caution because folate intake may simply reflect a healthy dietary pattern.
Conclusions
These novel results suggest that the association of the FTO-rs9939609 and the MC4R-rs17782313 polymorphisms with type 2 diabetes depends on diet and that a high adherence to the MedDiet counteracts the genetic predisposition.
doi:10.1186/1475-2840-11-137
PMCID: PMC3495759  PMID: 23130628
Nutrigenetics; Mediterranean diet; Diabetes; FTO; MC4R; Gene-diet interactions
13.  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
14.  The bigger picture of FTO – the first GWAS-identified obesity gene 
Nature reviews. Endocrinology  2013;10(1):51-61.
In 2007, SNPs that cluster in the first intron of FTO showed highly significant association in the first two genome-wide association studies for obesity traits of which the minor allele increases body mass index (BMI) by 0.39 kg/m2 (or 1,130 g in body weight) and risk of obesity by 1.20 fold. Subsequent studies convincingly confirmed this association across populations of diverse ancestry and throughout the life course, with the largest effect seen in young adulthood. The effect of FTO SNPs on obesity traits in African and Asian ancestry populations is similar or somewhat smaller than in European ancestry populations, but the BMI-increasing allele is substantially less prevalent in non-European ancestry populations. FTO SNPs do not influence physical activity levels, yet, in physically active individuals, FTO’s effect on obesity susceptibility is attenuated by ~30%. Growing evidence from epidemiological and functional studies suggests that FTO confers an increased risk of obesity through subtle changes in food intake and preference. In addition, recent emerging data now points to a role for FTO in the sensing of nutrients and the regulation of translation and growth. In this review, we explore the genetic epidemiology of FTO and discuss how its complex biology might link to the regulation of body weight.
doi:10.1038/nrendo.2013.227
PMCID: PMC4188449  PMID: 24247219
15.  Common Variation in the FTO Gene Alters Diabetes-Related Metabolic Traits to the Extent Expected Given Its Effect on BMI 
Diabetes  2008;57(5):1419-1426.
OBJECTIVE
Common variation in the FTO gene is associated with BMI and type 2 diabetes. Increased BMI is associated with diabetes risk factors, including raised insulin, glucose, and triglycerides. We aimed to test whether FTO genotype is associated with variation in these metabolic traits.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We tested the association between FTO genotype and 10 metabolic traits using data from 17,037 white European individuals. We compared the observed effect of FTO genotype on each trait to that expected given the FTO-BMI and BMI-trait associations.
RESULTS
Each copy of the FTO rs9939609 A allele was associated with higher fasting insulin (0.039 SD [95% CI 0.013–0.064]; P = 0.003), glucose (0.024 [0.001– 0.048]; P = 0.044), and triglycerides (0.028 [0.003– 0.052]; P = 0.025) and lower HDL cholesterol (0.032 [0.008 – 0.057]; P = 0.009). There was no evidence of these associations when adjusting for BMI. Associations with fasting alanine aminotransferase, γ-glutamyl-transferase, LDL cholesterol, A1C, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure were in the expected direction but did not reach P < 0.05. For all metabolic traits, effect sizes were consistent with those expected for the per allele change in BMI. FTO genotype was associated with a higher odds of metabolic syndrome (odds ratio 1.17 [95% CI 1.10 –1.25]; P = 3 × 10−6).
CONCLUSIONS
FTO genotype is associated with metabolic traits to an extent entirely consistent with its effect on BMI. Sample sizes of >12,000 individuals were needed to detect associations at P < 0.05. Our findings highlight the importance of using appropriately powered studies to assess the effects of a known diabetes or obesity variant on secondary traits correlated with these conditions.
doi:10.2337/db07-1466
PMCID: PMC3073395  PMID: 18346983
16.  Risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity Is Differentially Associated with Variation in FTO in Whites and African-Americans in the ARIC Study 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(5):e10521.
Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the fat mass and obesity associated (FTO) gene are associated with body mass index (BMI) in populations of European descent. The FTO rs9939609 variant, first detected in a genome-wide association study of diabetes, conferred an increased disease risk that was abolished after adjustment for BMI, suggesting that the association may be due to variation in adiposity. The relationship between diabetes, four previously identified FTO polymorphisms that span a 19.6-kb genomic region, and obesity was therefore evaluated in the biracial population-based Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study with the goal of further refining the association by comparing results between the two ethnic groups. The prevalence of diabetes and obesity (BMI ≥30 kg/m2) was established at baseline, and diabetes was determined by either self-report, a fasting glucose level ≥126 mg/dL, or non-fasting glucose ≥200 mg/dL. There were 1,004 diabetes cases and 10,038 non-cases in whites, and 670 cases and 2,780 non-cases in African-Americans. Differences in mean BMI were assessed by a general linear model, and multivariable logistic regression was used to predict the risk of diabetes and obesity. For white participants, the FTO rs9939609 A allele was associated with an increased risk of diabetes (odds ratio (OR)  = 1.19, p<0.001) and obesity (OR = 1.22, p<0.001) under an additive genetic model that was similar for all of the SNPs analyzed. In African-Americans, only the rs1421085 C allele was a determinant of obesity risk (OR = 1.17, p = 0.05), but was found to be protective against diabetes (OR = 0.79, p = 0.03). Adjustment for BMI did not eliminate any of the observed associations with diabetes. Significant statistical interaction between race and the FTO variants suggests that the effect on diabetes susceptibility may be context dependent.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010521
PMCID: PMC2873943  PMID: 20502638
17.  FTO Variants Are Associated With Obesity in the Chinese and Malay Populations in Singapore 
Diabetes  2008;57(10):2851-2857.
OBJECTIVE— Association between genetic variants at the FTO locus and obesity has been consistently observed in populations of European ancestry and inconsistently in non-Europeans. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of FTO variants on obesity and type 2 diabetes in Southeast Asian populations.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS— We examined associations between nine previously reported FTO single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and related traits in 4,298 participants (2,919 Chinese, 785 Malays, and 594 Asian Indians) from the 1998 Singapore National Health Survey (NHS98) and 2,996 Malays from the Singapore Malay Eye Study (SiMES).
RESULTS— All nine SNPs exhibited strong linkage disequilibrium (r2 = 0.6–0.99), and minor alleles were associated with obesity in the same direction as previous studies with effect sizes ranging from 0.42 to 0.68 kg/m2 (P < 0.0001) in NHS98 Chinese, 0.65 to 0.91 kg/m2 (P < 0.02) in NHS98 Malays, and 0.52 to 0.64 kg/m2 (P < 0.0001) in SiMES Malays after adjustment for age, sex, smoking, alcohol consumption, and exercise. The variants were also associated with type 2 diabetes, though not after adjustment for BMI (with the exception of the SiMES Malays: odds ratio 1.17–1.22; P ≤ 0.026).
CONCLUSIONS— FTO variants common among European populations are associated with obesity in ethnic Chinese and Malays in Singapore. Our data do not support the hypothesis that differences in allele frequency or genetic architecture underlie the lack of association observed in some populations of Asian ancestry. Examination of gene-environment interactions involving variants at this locus may provide further insights into the role of FTO in the pathogenesis of human obesity and diabetes.
doi:10.2337/db08-0214
PMCID: PMC2551698  PMID: 18599522
18.  Implication of Genetic Variants Near TCF7L2, SLC30A8, HHEX, CDKAL1, CDKN2A/B, IGF2BP2, and FTO in Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity in 6,719 Asians 
Diabetes  2008;57(8):2226-2233.
OBJECTIVE— Recent genome-wide association studies have identified six novel genes for type 2 diabetes and obesity and confirmed TCF7L2 as the major type 2 diabetes gene to date in Europeans. However, the implications of these genes in Asians are unclear.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS— We studied 13 associated single nucleotide polymorphisms from these genes in 3,041 patients with type 2 diabetes and 3,678 control subjects of Asian ancestry from Hong Kong and Korea.
RESULTS— We confirmed the associations of TCF7L2, SLC30A8, HHEX, CDKAL1, CDKN2A/CDKN2B, IGF2BP2, and FTO with risk for type 2 diabetes, with odds ratios ranging from 1.13 to 1.35 (1.3 × 10−12 < Punadjusted < 0.016). In addition, the A allele of rs8050136 at FTO was associated with increased BMI in the control subjects (Punadjusted = 0.008). However, we did not observe significant association of any genetic variants with surrogate measures of insulin secretion or insulin sensitivity indexes in a subset of 2,662 control subjects. Compared with subjects carrying zero, one, or two risk alleles, each additional risk allele was associated with 17% increased risk, and there was an up to 3.3-fold increased risk for type 2 diabetes in those carrying eight or more risk alleles. Despite most of the effect sizes being similar between Asians and Europeans in the meta-analyses, the ethnic differences in risk allele frequencies in most of these genes lead to variable attributable risks in these two populations.
CONCLUSIONS— Our findings support the important but differential contribution of these genetic variants to type 2 diabetes and obesity in Asians compared with Europeans.
doi:10.2337/db07-1583
PMCID: PMC2494677  PMID: 18469204
19.  The Effect of Elevated Body Mass Index on Ischemic Heart Disease Risk: Causal Estimates from a Mendelian Randomisation Approach 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(5):e1001212.
A Mendelian randomization analysis conducted by Børge G. Nordestgaard and colleagues using data from observational studies supports a causal relationship between body mass index and risk for ischemic heart disease.
Background
Adiposity, assessed as elevated body mass index (BMI), is associated with increased risk of ischemic heart disease (IHD); however, whether this is causal is unknown. We tested the hypothesis that positive observational associations between BMI and IHD are causal.
Methods and Findings
In 75,627 individuals taken from two population-based and one case-control study in Copenhagen, we measured BMI, ascertained 11,056 IHD events, and genotyped FTO(rs9939609), MC4R(rs17782313), and TMEM18(rs6548238). Using genotypes as a combined allele score in instrumental variable analyses, the causal odds ratio (OR) between BMI and IHD was estimated and compared with observational estimates. The allele score-BMI and the allele score-IHD associations used to estimate the causal OR were also calculated individually. In observational analyses the OR for IHD was 1.26 (95% CI 1.19–1.34) for every 4 kg/m2 increase in BMI. A one-unit allele score increase associated with a 0.28 kg/m2 (95 CI% 0.20–0.36) increase in BMI and an OR for IHD of 1.03 (95% CI 1.01–1.05) (corresponding to an average 1.68 kg/m2 BMI increase and 18% increase in the odds of IHD for those carrying all six BMI increasing alleles). In instrumental variable analysis using the same allele score the causal IHD OR for a 4 kg/m2 increase in BMI was 1.52 (95% CI 1.12–2.05).
Conclusions
For every 4 kg/m2 increase in BMI, observational estimates suggested a 26% increase in odds for IHD while causal estimates suggested a 52% increase. These data add evidence to support a causal link between increased BMI and IHD risk, though the mechanism may ultimately be through intermediate factors like hypertension, dyslipidemia, and type 2 diabetes. This work has important policy implications for public health, given the continuous nature of the BMI-IHD association and the modifiable nature of BMI. This analysis demonstrates the value of observational studies and their ability to provide unbiased results through inclusion of genetic data avoiding confounding, reverse causation, and bias.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Ischemic heart disease (IHD; also known as coronary heart disease) is the leading cause of death among adults in developed countries. In the US alone, IHD kills nearly half a million people every year. With age, fatty deposits (atherosclerotic plaques) build up in the walls of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply the heart with oxygen and nutrients. The resultant reduction in the heart's blood supply causes shortness of breath, angina (chest pains that are usually relieved by rest), and potentially fatal heart attacks (myocardial infarctions). Risk factors for IHD include smoking, high blood pressure (hypertension), abnormal amounts of cholesterol and other fat in the blood (dyslipidemia), type 2 diabetes, and being overweight or obese (having excess body fat). Treatments for IHD include lifestyle changes (for example, losing weight) and medications that lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. The narrowed arteries can also be widened using a device called a stent or surgically bypassed.
Why Was This Study Done?
Prospective observational studies have shown an association between a high body mass index (BMI, a measure of body fat that is calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared; a BMI greater than 30 kg/m2 indicates obesity) and an increased risk of IHD. Observational studies, which ask whether people who are exposed to a suspected risk factor develop a specific disease more often than people who are not exposed to the risk factor, cannot prove, however, that changes in BMI/adiposity cause IHD. Obese individuals may share other characteristics that cause both IHD and obesity (confounding) or, rather than obesity causing IHD, IHD may cause obesity (reverse causation). Here, the researchers use “Mendelian randomization” to examine whether elevations in BMI across the lifecourse have a causal impact on IHD risk. Three common genetic variants—FTO(rs9939609), MC4R(rs17782313), and TMEM18(rs6548238)—which have the largest single genetic variant associations with BMI were used in this study. Given that gene variants are inherited essentially randomly with respect to conventional confounding factors and are not subject reverse causation, use of these as instruments (or proxy measures) for variation in BMI as a risk factor (as opposed to measuring BMI directly) allows researchers to comment on whether obesity is causally involved in IHD.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed data from two population-based studies in which adults were physically examined and answered a lifestyle questionnaire before being followed to see how many developed IDH. They also analyzed data from a case-control study on IDH (in a case-control study, people with a disease are matched with similar people without the disease and the occurrence of risk factors in the patients and controls is compared). Overall, the researchers measured the BMI of 75,627 white individuals, among whom 11,056 already had IDH or developed it, and determined which of the BMI-increasing genetic variants each participant carried. On the basis of the observational data, every 4 kg/m2 increase in BMI increased the odds of IDH by 26% (an odds ratio of 1.26). Using a score derived from the combination of the three genetic variants, the researchers confirmed an association between each BMI increasing allele and both BMI (as expected) and IHD (0.28 kg/m2 and an odds ratio for IHD of 1.03, respectively). On average, compared to people carrying no BMI-increasing gene variants, people carrying six BMI-increasing gene variants had a 1.68 kg/m2 increase in BMI and an 18% increase in IHD risk. To extend this and to essentially reassess the original, observational, relationship between BMI and IHD risk, an “instrumental variable analysis” was used to examine the causal effect of a lifetime change in BMI on the risk of IDH. In this, it was found that for every 4 kg/m2 increase in BMI increased the odds of IDH by 52%.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings support a causal link between increased BMI and IDH risk, although it may be that BMI affects IDH through intermediate factors such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, and diabetes. The findings also show that observational studies into the impact of elevated BMI on IHD risk were consistent with this, but also that the inclusion of genetic data increases the value of observational studies by making it possible to avoid issues such as confounding and reverse causation. Finally, these findings and those of recent, observational studies have important implications for public-health policy because they show that the association between BMI (which is modifiable by lifestyle changes) and IHD is continuous. That is, any increase in BMI increases the risk of IHD; there is no threshold below which a BMI increase has no effect on IDH risk. Thus, public-health policies that aim to reduce BMI by even moderate levels could substantially reduce the occurrence of IDH in populations.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001212.
The American Heart Association provides information about IHD and tips on keeping the heart healthy, including weight management; it also provides personal stories about IHD
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about IHD, including information on prevention and personal stories about IHD
Information is available from the British Heart Foundation on heart disease and keeping the heart healthy
The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute also provides information on IHD (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides links to many other sources of information on IHD (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)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001212
PMCID: PMC3341326  PMID: 22563304
20.  The contribution of FTO and UCP-1 SNPs to extreme obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular risk in Brazilian individuals 
BMC Medical Genetics  2012;13:101.
Background
Obesity has become a common human disorder associated with significant morbidity and mortality and adverse effects on quality of life. Sequence variants in two candidate genes, FTO and UCP-1, have been reported to be overrepresented in obese Caucasian population. The association of these genes polymorphisms with the obesity phenotype in a multiethnic group such as the Brazilian population has not been previously reported.
Methods
To assess the putative contribution of both FTO and UCP-1 to body mass index (BMI) and cardiovascular risk we genotyped SNPs rs9939609 (FTO) and rs6536991, rs22705565 and rs12502572 (UCP-1) from 126 morbidly obese subjects (BMI 42.9 ± 5.6 kg/m2, mean ± SE) and 113 normal-weight ethnically matched controls (BMI 22.6 ± 3.5 kg/m2, mean ± SE). Waist circumference, blood pressure, glucose and serum lipids were also measured. Each sample was also genotyped for 40 biallelic short insertion/deletion polymorphism (indels) for ethnic assignment and to estimate the proportion of European, African and Amerindian biogeographical ancestry in the Brazilian population.
Results
Cases did not differ from controls in the proportions of genomic ancestry. The FTO SNP rs9939609 and UCP-1 SNP rs6536991 were significantly associated with BMI (p= 0.04 and p<0.0001 respectively). An allele dose dependent tendency was observed for BMI for rs6536991 sample of controls. No other significant associations between any SNP and hypertension, hyperlipidemia and diabetes were noted after correction for BMI and no significant synergistic effect between FTO and UCP-1 SNPs with obesity were noted. There was not an association between rs9939609 (FTO) and rs6536991 (UCP-1) in with maximum weight loss after 1 year in 94 obese patients who underwent bariatric surgery.
Conclusion
Our data are consistent with FTO rs9939609 and UCP-1 rs6536991 common variants as contributors to obesity in the Brazilian population.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-13-101
PMCID: PMC3526455  PMID: 23134754
FTO; UCP-1; Morbid obesity; Brazilian population; Multiethnic sample
21.  Common Variation in the Fat Mass and Obesity-Associated (FTO) Gene Confers Risk of Obesity and Modulates BMI in the Chinese Population 
Diabetes  2008;57(8):2245-2252.
OBJECTIVE— Genetic variants in the fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) gene have been linked with obesity and type 2 diabetes in European populations. We aimed to test the role of FTO genetic variants in obesity and type 2 diabetes in the Chinese population.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS— We genotyped 19 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) spanning from the 3′ end of the neighboring RPGRIP1L gene to the 5′ flanking region of the FTO gene. We analyzed their associations with obesity (638 case and 1,610 control subjects), type 2 diabetes (759 case and 784 control subjects), and obesity-related traits in nondiabetic subjects.
RESULTS— Among the 19 SNPs, the rs9939609 A allele was strongly associated with obesity (P = 7.0 × 10−4) and BMI (P = 0.0024) in the Chinese population. The odds ratio for obesity was 2.60 (95% CI 1.24–5.46) (P = 0.011) for the AA genotype and 1.32 (1.05–1.66) (P = 0.018) for the AT genotype compared with the TT genotype. Each additional copy of the rs9936609 A allele was associated with a BMI increase of ∼0.37 kg/m2. The rs9939609 A allele was substantially less common in the Chinese population than in the European population (12.6 vs. 45%). We did not find significant associations of the 19 SNPs with type 2 diabetes or other obesity-related traits.
CONCLUSIONS— Genetic variation in the FTO gene is strongly associated with obesity and BMI in the Chinese population. The risk variant is less common in the Chinese population, but its effect size on BMI is comparable with that in the European population.
doi:10.2337/db08-0377
PMCID: PMC2494679  PMID: 18487448
22.  Association Analysis of the FTO Gene with Obesity in Children of Caucasian and African Ancestry Reveals a Common Tagging SNP 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(3):e1746.
Recently an association was demonstrated between the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), rs9939609, within the FTO locus and obesity as a consequence of a genome wide association (GWA) study of type 2 diabetes in adults. We examined the effects of two perfect surrogates for this SNP plus 11 other SNPs at this locus with respect to our childhood obesity cohort, consisting of both Caucasians and African Americans (AA). Utilizing data from our ongoing GWA study in our cohort of 418 Caucasian obese children (BMI≥95th percentile), 2,270 Caucasian controls (BMI<95th percentile), 578 AA obese children and 1,424 AA controls, we investigated the association of the previously reported variation at the FTO locus with the childhood form of this disease in both ethnicities. The minor allele frequencies (MAF) of rs8050136 and rs3751812 (perfect surrogates for rs9939609 i.e. both r2 = 1) in the Caucasian cases were 0.448 and 0.443 respectively while they were 0.391 and 0.386 in Caucasian controls respectively, yielding for both an odds ratio (OR) of 1.27 (95% CI 1.08–1.47; P = 0.0022). Furthermore, the MAFs of rs8050136 and rs3751812 in the AA cases were 0.449 and 0.115 respectively while they were 0.436 and 0.090 in AA controls respectively, yielding an OR of 1.05 (95% CI 0.91–1.21; P = 0.49) and of 1.31 (95% CI 1.050–1.643; P = 0.017) respectively. Investigating all 13 SNPs present on the Illumina HumanHap550 BeadChip in this region of linkage disequilibrium, rs3751812 was the only SNP conferring significant risk in AA. We have therefore replicated and refined the association in an AA cohort and distilled a tag-SNP, rs3751812, which captures the ancestral origin of the actual mutation. As such, variants in the FTO gene confer a similar magnitude of risk of obesity to children as to their adult counterparts and appear to have a global impact.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001746
PMCID: PMC2262153  PMID: 18335027
23.  The Common FTO Genetic Polymorphism rs9939609 is Associated with Increased BMI in Type 1 Diabetes but not with Diabetic Nephropathy 
Biomarker Insights  2010;5:29-32.
The fat mass and obesity associated (FTO) gene has an important genetic effect on body mass index (BMI) and risk of obesity, and obesity contributes to the progression of renal diseases, including diabetic nephropathy. We thus conducted a genetic association study to evaluate whether the FTO gene confers the risk susceptibility to the development of diabetic nephropathy. Genotyping experiments of the common FTO polymorphism, rs9939609, in 1170 type 1 diabetes patients with (n = 597) or without diabetic nephropathy (n = 573) were performed with TaqMan allelic discrimination. All subjects are of European descent and selected from the Genetics of Kidney Diseases in Diabetes (GoKinD) study. The frequency of T allele of this polymorphism was 0.414 in the studied population. There was no allelic association of this polymorphism with diabetic nephropathy. But, the risk susceptibility of A allele conferring to the increased BMI among type 1 diabetes patients was observed. The subjects carrying with AA genotype had higher BMI compared to the carriers with TA and/or TT genotype(s) (P ≤ 0.019). The present study provides evidence that the common FTO genetic polymorphism, rs9939609, is associated with increased BMI in type 1 diabetes but not with diabetic nephropathy.
PMCID: PMC2867633  PMID: 20467478
diabetic nephropathy; fat mass and obesity associated; genetic association; single nucleotide polymorphism
24.  FTO at rs9939609, Food Responsiveness, Emotional Control and Symptoms of ADHD in Preschool Children 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49131.
The FTO minor allele at rs9939609 has been associated with body mass index (BMI: weight (kg)/height (m)2) in children from 5 years onwards, food intake, and eating behaviour. The high expression of FTO in the brain suggests that this gene may also be associated with behavioural phenotypes, such as impulsivity and control. We examined the effect of the FTO minor allele (A) at rs9939609 on eating behaviour, impulsivity and control in young children, thus before the BMI effect becomes apparent. This study was embedded in the Generation R Study, a population-based cohort from fetal life onwards. 1,718 children of European descent were genotyped for FTO at rs9939609. With logistic regression assuming an additive genetic model, we examined the association between the FTO minor allele and eating behaviour, impulsivity and control in preschool children. There was no relation between FTO at rs9939609 and child BMI at this age. The A allele at rs9939609 was associated with increased food responsiveness (OR 1.21, p = 0.03). Also, children with the A allele were less likely to have symptoms of ADHD (OR 0.74, p = 0.01) and showed more emotional control (OR 0.64, p = 0.01) compared to children without the A allele. Our findings suggest that before the association between FTO and BMI becomes apparent, the FTO minor allele at rs9939609 leads to increased food responsiveness, a decreased risk for symptoms of ADHD and better emotional control. Future studies are needed to investigate whether these findings represent one single mechanism or reflect pleiotropic effects of FTO.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049131
PMCID: PMC3498333  PMID: 23155456
25.  FTO variant rs9939609 is associated with body mass index and waist circumference, but not with energy intake or physical activity in European- and African-American youth 
BMC Medical Genetics  2010;11:57.
Background
Genome-wide association studies found common variants in the fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) gene associated with adiposity in Caucasians and Asians but the association was not confirmed in African populations. Association of FTO variants with insulin resistance and energy intake showed inconsistent results in previous studies. This study aimed to assess the influence of FTO variant rs9939609 on adiposity, insulin resistance, energy intake and physical activity in European - (EA) and African-American (AA) youth.
Methods
We conducted a cross-sectional study in EA and AA youths. One thousand, nine hundred and seventy-eight youths (48.2% EAs, 47.1% male, mean age 16.5 years) had measures of anthropometry. Percent body fat (%BF) was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue (SAAT) by magnetic resonance imaging. Energy intake and physical activity were based on self report from up to 7 24-hour recalls. Physical activity was also measured by accelerometry.
Results
FTO rs9939609 was significantly associated with body mass index (BMI) (P = 0.01), weight (P = 0.03) and waist circumference (P = 0.04), with per-allele effects of 0.4 kg/m2, 1.3 kg and 0.8 cm, respectively. No significant association was found between rs9939609 and %BF, VAT, SAAT or insulin resistance (P > 0.05), or between rs9939609 and energy intake or vigorous physical activity (P > 0.05). No significant interactions of rs9939609 with ethnicity, gender, energy intake or physical activity were observed (P > 0.05).
Conclusions
The FTO variant rs9939609 is modestly associated with BMI and waist circumference, but not with energy intake or physical activity. Moreover, these effects were similar for EAs and AAs. Improved understanding of the effect of the FTO variant will offer new insights into the etiology of excess adiposity.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-11-57
PMCID: PMC2864242  PMID: 20377915

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