The INSIG2 rs7566605 polymorphism was identified for obesity (BMI≥30 kg/m2) in one of the first genome-wide association studies, but replications were inconsistent. We collected statistics from 34 studies (n = 74,345), including general population (GP) studies, population-based studies with subjects selected for conditions related to a better health status (‘healthy population’, HP), and obesity studies (OB). We tested five hypotheses to explore potential sources of heterogeneity. The meta-analysis of 27 studies on Caucasian adults (n = 66,213) combining the different study designs did not support overall association of the CC-genotype with obesity, yielding an odds ratio (OR) of 1.05 (p-value = 0.27). The I2 measure of 41% (p-value = 0.015) indicated between-study heterogeneity. Restricting to GP studies resulted in a declined I2 measure of 11% (p-value = 0.33) and an OR of 1.10 (p-value = 0.015). Regarding the five hypotheses, our data showed (a) some difference between GP and HP studies (p-value = 0.012) and (b) an association in extreme comparisons (BMI≥32.5, 35.0, 37.5, 40.0 kg/m2 versus BMI<25 kg/m2) yielding ORs of 1.16, 1.18, 1.22, or 1.27 (p-values 0.001 to 0.003), which was also underscored by significantly increased CC-genotype frequencies across BMI categories (10.4% to 12.5%, p-value for trend = 0.0002). We did not find evidence for differential ORs (c) among studies with higher than average obesity prevalence compared to lower, (d) among studies with BMI assessment after the year 2000 compared to those before, or (e) among studies from older populations compared to younger. Analysis of non-Caucasian adults (n = 4889) or children (n = 3243) yielded ORs of 1.01 (p-value = 0.94) or 1.15 (p-value = 0.22), respectively. There was no evidence for overall association of the rs7566605 polymorphism with obesity. Our data suggested an association with extreme degrees of obesity, and consequently heterogeneous effects from different study designs may mask an underlying association when unaccounted for. The importance of study design might be under-recognized in gene discovery and association replication so far.
A polymorphism of the INSIG2 gene was identified as being associated with obesity in one of the first genome-wide association studies. However, this association has since then been highly debated upon inconsistent subsequent reports. We collected association information from 34 studies including a total of 74,000 participants. In a meta-analysis of the 27 studies including 66,000 Caucasian adults, we found no overall association of this polymorphism rs7566605 with obesity, comparing subjects with a body-mass-index (BMI)≥30 kg/m2 with normal BMI subjects (BMI<30 kg/m2). Our data suggested an association of this polymorphism with extreme obesity (e.g., BMI≥37.5 kg/m2) compared to normal controls. Such an association with extreme obesity might induce heterogeneous effects from different study designs depending on the proportion of extreme obesity included by the design. However, further studies would be required to substantiate this finding. The importance of study design might be under-recognized in gene discovery and association replication so far.