Fat Gene Variants In Mexican Americans Linked to Diabetes

Americans of Mexican decent who possess fat gene variants closely connected to obesity, are at higher risks for certain conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The variants are of the fat genes FTO and Arachidonate 5-Lipoxygenase (5-LO). For those with these variants, higher triglyceride and lower HDL (high-density lipoprotein) levels were observed. High triglyceride levels have been linked in the past to obesity and cardiovascular disease. Low HDL (also known as good cholesterol) levels also translates to an increased risk for heart disease. According to leading researcher Dr. Mary Helen Black, “the genetic interaction between 5-LO and FTO was significantly associated with an inverse relationship between triglycerides and HDL levels.”

165 Mexican American families, consisting of 1,286 individuals in total, participated in the study. The initial link between all the families, outside of their ethnic background, was the presence of diabetes in each family. The results of the study were presented at the ADA 68th Annual Scientific Sessions, which is a large gathering to discuss recent diabetic research.

The hope is that these results will lead to a better understanding of the interactions between these gene variants, and the subsequent development of medicines that control the negative effects of this interaction. As Dr. Black says, “because obesity and dyslipidemia are often precursors to diabetes, these gene interactions may play a vital role in future drug target development, which is another step toward advancing personalized medicine.”

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Black, Mary Helen. Chan, Jennifer. ADA 68th Annual Scientific Sessions news release. June 2008.

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