Study finds fat and bone mass are genetically linked
When it comes to body shape, diet and exercise can only take us so far. Our body shape and geometry are largely determined by genetic factors. Genetics also have an impact on our body composition – including soft fat tissue and hard bone tissue – and can lead to excess fat or osteoporosis.
Now Prof. Gregory Livshits of Tel Aviv University's Department of Anatomy and Anthropology at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, working alongside Dr. Michael Korostishevsky, has uncovered a clear genetic link between fat and bone mass. These factors, which contribute to bone metabolism, also affect Body Mass Index (BMI), which often serves as an indicator of overall health.
Reported in the journal Bone, this finding is a step towards understanding how these tissues are inter-related on a biological level, and will help doctors develop better treatment plans for patients dealing with fat or bone related pathologies. "When a patient is prescribed a medication, it is always important to know the potential side effects," says Prof. Livshits. As a result of this genetic connection, "a medication that is prescribed to treat obesity might have a negative impact on skeletal health," he says.
Connections forged in fat and bone
Previous studies revealed that osteocalcin, a protein produced by bone cells, has an impact not only on bone but also on fat tissue metabolism. The protein's function is associated with bone formation and bone mineralization. But recent data suggest that osteocalcin is also involved in the regulation of glucose and fat metabolism and that osteocalcin levels are lower in obese and overweight individuals. Prof. Livshits and Dr. Korostishevsky set out to determine the underlying mechanism of this osteocalcin link – whether it was purely environmental or had a genetic basis.
The researchers conducted their study on a European population called the Chuvasha – descendants of Bulgarian tribes that have lived along the Volga River for more than a thousand years. As a relatively isolated and ethnically homogeneous population, they are highly appropriate for the study of genetic effects. 1,112 participants over the age of 20 hailing from a total of 230 families were tested for variants in the osteocalcin gene. Genetic information was analyzed in connection with measurements that reflect body mass, including BMI, thickness of skin folds, reflecting the amount of fat beneath the skin and others.
"We discovered a statistically significant association between osteocalcin gene variants and measures of body mass, suggesting the involvement of this gene in body mass regulation," says Prof. Livshits. To check the reliability of their findings, they asked researchers at Tulane University in Louisiana to test the same association between genetic variants of the osteocalcin gene and body mass measurements in an extensive sample of 2,244 Americans of European background. The results revealed a very similar pattern.
Because the connection between fat and bone mass has been shown to be genetic rather than environmental, related issues can't be addressed separately, Prof. Livshits says. Bisphosphonates, for example, are effective agents for the treatment of bone mineral density loss and are therefore commonly used to treat osteoporosis. However, it is also important to know how this therapy impacts fat tissue. "After a few years of treatment that improves the bones, we don't want to discover that we have harmed the fat tissue in the process," he adds.
In parallel studies, the researchers are also investigating the FTO (fat mass and obesity-associated) gene, which has been shown to impact fat and lean body mass and is suspected to impact bone mineral density too. Their future research will explore the extent to which osteocalcin, FTO, and several other genes impact muscle mass in addition to fat and bone mass. It is important to understand the extent to which these genes contribute to interdependence of all major body composition components, says Prof. Livshits.
Journal reference: Bone
Provided by Tel Aviv University
- The lean gene Apr 01, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Bone-cell control of energy generation is regulated by the protein Atf4 Aug 10, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Belly fat puts women at risk for osteoporosis Nov 30, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Exercise can produce healthy chatter between bone, fat and pancreatic cells Sep 19, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Men with belly fat at risk for osteoporosis Nov 28, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
How can there be villous adenoma in colon, if there are no villi there
1 hour ago As title suggest. Thanks :smile:
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
(Medical Xpress)—Scientists supported by the National Institutes of Health have a new theory as to why a woman's fertility declines after her mid-30s. They also suggest an approach that might help slow ...
Medical research 56 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Medical researchers discover new ways to target, develop and design drugs to prevent and treat viral infection
Researchers at the University of Alberta have discovered a new drug target, developed a new drug and identified a new way to design drugs—all of which could be a winning combination in the battle against viruses.
Medical research 1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0 |
New research at The University of Nottingham aimed at preventing harmful blood clots associated with heart disease and stroke has recently received a major funding boost from the British Heart Foundation.
Medical research 1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
Italian lawmakers on Wednesday gave their final approval to a law that allows limited use of a controversial type of stem cell therapy which has been condemned by many scientists but has given hope to families of terminally-ill ...
Medical research 1 hour ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 1
Trends in Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and smoking explain a significant proportion of the decline of intestinal-type noncardia gastric adenocarcinoma (NCGA) incidence in US men between 1978 and 2008, and are estimated ...
Medical research 16 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—A report published today shows a 2.6% decrease in the amount of alcohol sold per adult in Scotland in the year following the introduction of the Alcohol etc. (Scotland) Act in October 2011.
26 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—High blood pressure is something that has traditionally been a problem in Scotland, but might there be a link to our climate?
16 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Health care spending is much higher for older Americans than for younger adults and children, on average, and analysts have said that increasing spending leads to longer life expectancy.
6 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
The University of Gothenburg Vaccine Research Institute (GUVAX) announces successful results in a placebo controlled phase I study of an oral, inactivated Escherichia coli diarrhea vaccine.
46 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Preschoolers universally recognize that one's choices are not always free – that our decisions may be constrained by social obligations to be nice to others or follow rules set by parents ...
56 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Is it permissible to harm one to save many? Those who tend to say "yes" when faced with this classic dilemma are likely to be deficient in a specific kind of empathy, according to a report published in the scientific journal ...
4 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |