Researchers discover gene that causes obesity in mice

March 5, 2013

Researchers have discovered that deleting a specific gene in mice prevents them from becoming obese even on a high fat diet, a finding they believe may be replicated in humans.

"When fed a diet that induces obesity these mice don't get fat," said Prof. James McManaman, Ph.D., lead author of the study and vice-chairman of research for at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. "It may be possible to duplicate this in humans using existing technology that targets this specific gene."

The two-year study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. , was published last month in the .

The research team created a strain of mice without the Plin2 gene which produces a protein that regulates fat storage and metabolism. They immediately found that the mice were resistant to obesity.

Usually, mice fed a high fat diet will eat voraciously, yet these showed an unusual restraint. Not only did they eat less, they were more active.

Their fat cells were also 20 percent smaller than typical mice and did not show the kind of inflammation usually associated with obesity, the study said. Obesity-associated , common in obese humans and rodents, was absent in the mice without the Plin2 gene.

"The mice were healthier," McManaman said. "They had lower triglyceride levels, they were more insulin-sensitive, they had no incidents of fatty liver disease and there was less inflammation in the ."

The absence of the gene may cause fat to be metabolized faster, he said.

"Now we want to know why this works physiologically," McManaman said. "We want to better understand how this affects ."

According to the study, understanding how Plin2 is involved in the control of will provide new insights into "the mechanisms by which nutrition overload is detected, and how individuals adapt to, or fail to adapt to, dietary challenges."

The consequences for people are highly significant since they also possess the Plin2 gene.

"It could mean that we have finally discovered a way to disrupt obesity in humans," he said. "That would be a major breakthrough."

Explore further: Researchers uncover 'obesity gene' involved in weight gain response to high-fat diet

Related Stories

Fatty food can weaken the immune system

December 8, 2009

Fresh evidence that fatty food is bad for our health has come to light: mice fed a lard-based diet over a long period got worse at fighting bacteria in the blood, reveals a thesis from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University ...

Molasses extract decreases obesity caused by a high-fat diet

July 12, 2011

Experimental results to be presented at the upcoming annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, suggests that ...

Recommended for you

Basic research fuels advanced discovery

August 26, 2016

Clinical trials and translational medicine have certainly given people hope and rapid pathways to cures for some of mankind's most troublesome diseases, but now is not the time to overlook the power of basic research, says ...

New avenue for understanding cause of common diseases

August 25, 2016

A ground-breaking Auckland study could lead to discoveries about many common diseases such as diabetes, cancer and dementia. The new finding could also illuminate the broader role of the enigmatic mitochondria in human development.

New method creates endless supply of kidney precursor cells

August 25, 2016

Salk Institute scientists have discovered the holy grail of endless youthfulness—at least when it comes to one type of human kidney precursor cell. Previous attempts to maintain cultures of the so-called nephron progenitor ...

Strict diet combats rare progeria aging disorders

August 25, 2016

Mice with a severe aging disease live three times longer if they eat thirty percent less. Moreover, they age much healthier than mice that eat as much as they want. These are findings of a joint study being published today ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.