Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fat associated with chemical changes in DNA that may help explain obesity-related disease

Date:
January 24, 2011
Source:
Medical College of Georgia
Summary:
Fat appears to associate with some distinctive chemical changes in the DNA -- a finding that may help explain why obesity can increase the risk for chronic problems such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, researchers report. The finding may one day help identify those at risk and reduce it.

The research of Dr. Xiaoling Wang, genetic epidemiologist at the Medical College of Georgia's Georgia Prevention Institute, is providing insight as to how fat causes disease.
Credit: Phil Jones, Campus Photographer

Fat appears to associate with some distinctive chemical changes in the DNA -- a finding that may help explain why obesity can increase the risk for chronic problems such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, researchers report.

The finding, published in BMC Medicine, may one day help identify those at risk and reduce it, according to Dr. Xiaoling Wang, genetic epidemiologist at the Medical College of Georgia's Georgia Prevention Institute.

"Losing fat is very difficult; we know that. We also know it causes many diseases so we want to identify and target pathways to reduce those diseases," Wang said.

Fat used to be viewed as essentially padding and a ready energy source but scientists are learning it's more like a factory that makes chemicals and compounds such as hormones and proteins. Studies comparing two groups of obese versus lean teens found higher levels of chemical change, or methylation, in a portion of the UBASH3A gene and lower levels in part of the TRIM3 gene.

Both genes are known to have roles in regulating the immune system, which is often dysregulated in obese individuals. Dysregulation can result in a level of chronic inflammation that contributes to diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Methylation can impact immune function by affecting gene expression levels which ultimately impacts downstream functions of the proteins produced by genes.

"You need to know disease pathways to find novel medications," Wang said. "We generally know they have a dysregulation of the immune function, but we didn't know the specific site." She believes she found at least two sites in the UBASH3A and TRIM3 gene. Her initial search was broad: a genome-wide screen of seven obese and seven lean teens that enabled her to identify genes most different between the two. She ranked the differences and, in a much larger study of 46 obese and 46 lean controls, looked at the same sites in the top six genes and found again the distinctive methylation pattern in UBASH3A and TRIM3.

Wang now wants to clarify whether fat causes the DNA changes or vice versa and confirm that the changes contribute to the immune dysfunction associated with obesity.

She notes that because obesity does not always lead to related diseases, it's important to have a way to not just intervene, but to identify those most at risk. Factors such as fitness, body shape and environment probably are also predictors for related disease.

"… (T)he public health message of 'eat less and exercise more' appears to have fallen on deaf ears," Drs. Paul W. Franks and Charlotte Ling of Sweden's Skεne University Hospital, Lund University write in an accompanying editorial. "Thus, despite the apparently simple explanation and remedy for obesity, this knowledge is not enough. We are saddled with a challenge, which is to unravel the mechanisms by which obesity emerges and to understand how its presence causes disease and death, with the hope that somewhere within the details hides the solution to the problem." They note that Wang's study provides "tentative evidence" that DNA methylation at the two gene sites may be implicated in obesity-related disease.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Medical College of Georgia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Xiaoling Wang, Haidong Zhu, Harold Snieder, Shaoyong Su, David Munn, Gregory Harshfield, Bernard L Maria, Yanbin Dong, Frank Treiber, Bernard Gutin, Huidong Shi. Obesity related methylation changes in DNA of peripheral blood leukocytes. BMC Medicine, 2010; 8 (1): 87 DOI: 10.1186/1741-7015-8-87

Cite This Page:

Medical College of Georgia. "Fat associated with chemical changes in DNA that may help explain obesity-related disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110120111027.htm>.
Medical College of Georgia. (2011, January 24). Fat associated with chemical changes in DNA that may help explain obesity-related disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110120111027.htm
Medical College of Georgia. "Fat associated with chemical changes in DNA that may help explain obesity-related disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110120111027.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) — Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) — A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins