Overweight + gene mutation = elevated liver values in children

June 17, 2014

A study carried out at the Institute of Biomedicine of the University of Eastern Finland shows that a common mutation in the PNPLA3 gene combined with overweight results in elevated ALAT values in children. The ALAT value is an indicator of liver metabolism. In adults, this gene mutation is known to promote the accumulation of fat in the liver. The new results indicate that a healthy lifestyle is important already in childhood in order to prevent the accumulation of fat in the liver, and it is especially important for those carrying the risk gene. The results will be published in Pediatric Obesity. A pre-print version is available on the journal website.

Overweight is often associated with the accumulation of fat in the , which is harmful for health. This results in decreased insulin sensitivity in the liver, making the -induced problems in glucose and lipid metabolism worse. In addition to the amount of overweight, genetic factors also play a role in the accumulation of fat in the liver. A common mutation in the PNPLA3 gene prevents the breakdown of triglycerides in the liver and promotes the accumulation of fat. The role of the gene in the accumulation of fat in the liver has been studied very scarcely in children, and there aren't any previous follow-up studies.

This recently published study carried out at the University of Eastern Finland showed that the liver ALAT values of who are carriers of the are more elevated than those of other children. Furthermore, a follow-up of just two years showed that the liver values of overweight children who are carriers of the gene mutation are clearly elevated when compared to other children. The gene mutation without the presence of overweight did not elevate liver values. The observations indicate that it is specifically the co-existence of extra tissue and the gene mutation that causes the elevated liver values already in childhood. Moreover, merely being overweight without being a carrier of the gene mutation was linked to elevated liver values; however, the gene mutation significantly increased the occurrence of elevated liver values.

The significance of the research finding for public health is emphasised by the fact that 41% of the children who participated in the study were carriers of the PNPLA3 gene mutation associated with fatty liver, and 15% of the children were overweight.

The study included 481 healthy 6-to-8 year-old girls and boys from the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children Study, PANIC. The Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children Study is an on-going lifestyle intervention study, which produces valuable information on 's lifestyles, health and well-being all the way into adulthood.

Explore further: Survivors of childhood liver transplant at risk of becoming 'skinny fat'

More information: The PANIC study results are available online: www.uef.fi/en/biolaaketiede/la … ikunta-ja-ravitsemus

Related Stories

Survivors of childhood liver transplant at risk of becoming 'skinny fat'

June 12, 2014
New research reports that survivors of childhood liver transplant remain nutritionally compromised over the long-term. Findings published in Liver Transplantation, a journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver ...

Gene mutation is linked to accumulation of fat, other lipids in liver

January 31, 2012
A team of scientists from the University of Utah and the University of California at San Francisco has discovered that the mutation of a gene encoding a ketone body transporter triggers accumulation of fat and other lipids ...

Fatty liver disease prevented in mice

June 3, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Studying mice, researchers have found a way to prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, the most common cause of chronic liver disease worldwide. Blocking a path that delivers dietary fructose to the liver ...

Study discovers new regulators of the most prevalent liver disease

January 7, 2014
Excessive alcohol consumption, as well as obesity leads to the accumulation of fat in the liver, a disease termed fatty liver disease (FLD) or steatosis. FLD is one of the most prevalent diseases in Western societies and ...

New genetic cause of children's liver disease discovered

March 11, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—The discovery of a 'faulty gene' in children with liver disease could pave the way for new treatments for children with a range of serious and life-threatening liver conditions.

Researchers identify fat-storage gene mutation that may increase diabetes risk

May 22, 2014
Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have identified a mutation in a fat-storage gene that appears to increase the risk for type 2 diabetes and other metabolic disorders, according to a study published ...

Recommended for you

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

Engineered liver tissue expands after transplant

July 19, 2017
Many diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatitis, can lead to liver failure. More than 17,000 Americans suffering from these diseases are now waiting for liver transplants, but significantly fewer livers are available.

Lunatic Fringe gene plays key role in the renewable brain

July 19, 2017
The discovery that the brain can generate new cells - about 700 new neurons each day - has triggered investigations to uncover how this process is regulated. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Jan and Dan Duncan ...

New animal models for hepatitis C could pave the way for a vaccine

July 19, 2017
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of hepatitis C—a disease that affects nearly 71 million people worldwide, causing cirrhosis and liver cancer if left untreated—it might be worth ...

Omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation via cannabinoids

July 18, 2017
Chemical compounds called cannabinoids are found in marijuana and also are produced naturally in the body from omega-3 fatty acids. A well-known cannabinoid in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, is responsible for some of its ...

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.