Obesity Gene May Facilitate Weight Gain By Shifting Endocrine Balance

Christian Benedict PhD Department of Neuroscience Uppsala University Uppsala, SwedenMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Christian Benedict PhD
Department of Neuroscience
Uppsala University
Uppsala, Sweden

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Benedict: By utilizing blood samples collected after an overnight fast, we demonstrated that humans carrying a common risk variant of the fat mass and obesity gene (obesity-associated gene (FTO)) (~16% of the population have two copies of this risk variant) had higher fasting blood concentrations of the hunger hormone ghrelin.  In contrast, fasting serum levels of the satiety enhancing hormone leptin were lower.

MedicalResearch: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Benedict: The finding that FTO is associated with circulating levels of ghrelin complements previous results obtained in a small clinical trial from UK (J Clin Invest. 2013 Aug 1;123(8):3539-51.). In this trial, it was shown that humans carrying a common risk variant of the FTO gene had dysregulated circulating levels of the orexigenic hormone ghrelin.

MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Benedict: The present findings suggest that FTO may facilitate weight gain in humans by shifting the endocrine balance from the satiety hormone leptin toward the hunger promoting hormone ghrelin.

MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Benedict: Experimental studies are needed to advance our understanding through which mechanisms common risk variants of FTO increase circulating levels of ghrelin and decrease circulating levels of leptin.

Citation:

The fat mass and obesity-associated gene (FTO) is linked to higher plasma levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and lower serum levels of the satiety hormone leptin in older adults
Christian Benedict, Tomas Axelsson, Stefan Söderberg, Anders Larsson, Erik Ingelsson, Lars Lind, and Helgi B Schiöth

Diabetes published ahead of print June 4, 2014, doi:10.2337/db14-0470 1939-327X

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