How switching off a fat gene may prevent weight-gain – EVEN if you eat a high-fat diet
Removing Plin2 gene made mice resistant to obesityFat cells were 20% smaller and rodents also ate lessScientists think the effect could be duplicated in humans
12:53 GMT, 6 March 2013
14:02 GMT, 6 March 2013
Switching off a certain gene could stop junk food eaters from gaining weight
Switching off a 'fat' gene could prevent you from piling on the pound even if you stick to a high-fat diet, say researchers.
A two-year study found that removing this gene in mice made them resistant to obesity. The animals showed unusual restraint when fed a high-calorie diet and were more active as well.
'When fed a diet that induces obesity
these mice don’t get fat,' said study author Professor James McManaman from the University of Colorado.
'It may be
possible to duplicate this in humans using existing technology that
targets this specific gene.'
The absence of the gene may cause fat to be broken down faster by the body, he said.
The research team created a strain of mice without the Plin2 gene, which humans also possess. It produces a protein that regulates fat storage and metabolism.
They found their fat cells were 20 per cent smaller than typical mice and did not show the kind of inflammation usually associated with obesity.
Obesity-associated fatty liver disease, common in obese humans and rodents alike, was absent in the mice without the Plin2 gene.
'The mice were healthier,' Prof McManaman said.
Fat cells were 20 per cent smaller in mice without the Plin2 gene
'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 fat cells.'
The findings suggest switching off the Plin2 gene may lower the risk of heart disease (triglycerides are fatty molecules involved in the hardening of the arteries) and diabetes.
'It could mean that we have finally
discovered a way to disrupt obesity in humans. That would be a
major breakthrough,' Prof McManaman.
The team next want to know how the gene alteration works physiologically and better understand how it affects food consumption.
According to the study, understanding how Plin2 is involved in the control of energy balance 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 study, funded by the
National Institutes of Health was published in The Journal of Lipid Research.