Sunday September 22, 2019

Study Reveals That Genes Affect Where Fat is Stored in our Bodies

The result of the current study may therefore lead to the development of new interventions to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease

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The heart attack brings about activation of certain genes which stay as a permanent memory in genes. Pixabay

Researchers have found that whether you store your fat around the trunk or in other parts of your body is highly influenced by genetic factors.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, also reported that this effect is present predominantly in women and to a much lower extent in men.

“We know that women and men tend to store fat differently – women have the ability to more easily store fat on the hips and legs, while men tend to accumulate fat around the abdomen to a higher extent,” said lead author Mathias Rask-Andersen from Uppsala University in Sweden.

“This has been attributed to the effects of sex hormones such as estrogen. But the molecular mechanisms that control this phenomenon are fairly unknown,” Rask-Andersen added.

For the study, the researchers measured how fat was distributed in nearly 360,000 voluntary participants. The participants gave blood samples for genotyping and the distribution of fat tissue was estimated using impedance measurements, i.e. measurements of electrical resistance when an electrical current is fed through the body.

In the study, millions of genetic variants across the genome were tested for association with distribution of fat to the arms, legs or trunk, and the research team identified nearly a hundred genes that affect distribution of adipose tissue to the different compartments of the human body.

Representational image.

The researchers also saw a high degree of heterogeneity between sexes.

The findings suggest that remodelling of the extracellular matrix is one of the mechanisms that generates differences in body fat distribution, the researchers said.

Fat stored in the trunk has previously been associated with increased disease risk. Men have a greater amount of abdominal fat than women and this may explain the increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease observed in males.

Epidemiological studies have even shown that the ability to store fat around the hips and legs gives women some protection against cardiovascular disease.

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The result of the current study may therefore lead to the development of new interventions to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

“The biological systems we highlight in our study have the potential to be used as points-of-intervention for new drugs that are aimed at improving the distribution of body fat and thereby reducing the risk of disease,” Mathias Rask-Andersen noted. (IANS)

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Researchers Find Multiple Genes to Blame for Risk of Asthma, Eczema

All three diseases arise through a complex association among several genes and also with environmental and lifestyle factors, researchers said

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Researchers have found a total of 141 regions in our genetic material that largely explain the genetic risk underlying asthma, hay fever and eczema. As many as 41 of the genes identified have not previously been linked to an elevated risk for these diseases.

The study, published in the journal Human Molecular Genetics, shows that the risk of developing asthma, hay fever or eczema is affected by genes, environment and lifestyle factors.

It was also noted that many patients diagnosed with one of these diseases also develop the other two at some stage in life.

“The findings are helping us to reach a greater understanding of why certain individuals are at higher risk of developing asthma and allergies and we hope the results will be put to use both in clinical diagnostics and in drug development,” said study lead author Weronica Ek from Uppsala University.

For the study, researchers analysed self-reported data from 350,000 participants. Millions of gene positions were tested for their effect on people’s risk of being diagnosed with asthma, hay fever and eczema.

Shame, Guilt, Asthma
It is not just respiratory symptoms or a feeling of tiredness that asthma sufferers have to face daily, many of them even have to deal with shame and a sense of guilt using inhalers at work. Pixabay

The 41 new genetic finds were also tested in an independent group of individuals comprising 110,000 people.

This testing verified that most of these new genetic variants have an effect on the individual’s risk of developing disease.

The study showed that a large number of the genes identified entail a raised risk for all three diseases. This, in turn, shows that the elevated risk of suffering from allergy when asthma is diagnosed or the elevated risk of asthma when allergy is diagnosed, seems to be largely due to genetic factors.

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The study was also able to identify several genes that boost the risk of one of these diseases in relation to the others, which demonstrates that a number of more disease-specific effects also exist.

All three diseases arise through a complex association among several genes and also with environmental and lifestyle factors, researchers said. (IANS)