Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Obese but happy gene' challenges the common perception of link between depression and obesity

Date:
November 20, 2012
Source:
McMaster University
Summary:
Researchers have discovered new genetic evidence about why some people are happier than others. The scientists have uncovered evidence that the gene FTO -- the major genetic contributor to obesity -- is associated with an eight per cent reduction in the risk of depression. In other words, it's not just an obesity gene but a "happy gene" as well.

Scientists have uncovered evidence that the gene FTO -- the major genetic contributor to obesity -- is associated with an eight per cent reduction in the risk of depression.
Credit: SVLuma / Fotolia

Researchers at McMaster University have discovered new genetic evidence about why some people are happier than others.

McMaster scientists have uncovered evidence that the gene FTO -- the major genetic contributor to obesity -- is associated with an eight per cent reduction in the risk of depression. In other words, it's not just an obesity gene but a "happy gene" as well.

The research appears in a study recently published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. The paper was produced by senior author David Meyre, associate professor in clinical epidemiology and biostatistics at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and a Canada Research Chair in genetic epidemiology; first author Dr. Zena Samaan, assistant professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, and members of the Population Health Research Institute of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences.

"The difference of eight per cent is modest and it won't make a big difference in the day-to-day care of patients," Meyre said. "But, we have discovered a novel molecular basis for depression."

In the past, family studies on twins, and brothers and sisters, have shown a 40 per cent genetic component in depression. However, scientific studies attempting to associate genes with depression have been "surprisingly unsuccessful" and produced no convincing evidence so far, Samaan said.

The McMaster discovery challenges the common perception of a reciprocal link between depression and obesity: That obese people become depressed because of their appearance and social and economic discrimination; depressed individuals may lead less active lifestyles and change eating habits to cope with depression that causes them to become obese.

"We set out to follow a different path, starting from the hypothesis that both depression and obesity deal with brain activity. We hypothesized that obesity genes may be linked to depression," Meyre said.

The McMaster researchers investigated the genetic and psychiatric status of patients enrolled in the EpiDREAM study led by the Population Health Research Institute, which analyzed 17,200 DNA samples from participants in 21 countries.

In these patients, they found the previously identified obesity predisposing genetic variant in FTO was associated with an eight per cent reduction in the risk of depression. They confirmed this finding by analyzing the genetic status of patients in three additional large international studies.

Meyre said the fact the obesity gene's same protective trend on depression was found in four different studies supports their conclusion. It is the "first evidence" that an FTO obesity gene is associated with protection against major depression, independent of its effect on body mass index, he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McMaster University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Z Samaan, S Anand, X Zhang, D Desai, M Rivera, G Pare, L Thabane, C Xie, H Gerstein, J C Engert, I Craig, S Cohen-Woods, V Mohan, R Diaz, X Wang, L Liu, T Corre, M Preisig, Z Kutalik, S Bergmann, P Vollenweider, G Waeber, S Yusuf, D Meyre. The protective effect of the obesity-associated rs9939609 A variant in fat mass- and obesity-associated gene on depression. Molecular Psychiatry, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/mp.2012.160

Cite This Page:

McMaster University. "'Obese but happy gene' challenges the common perception of link between depression and obesity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121120084725.htm>.
McMaster University. (2012, November 20). 'Obese but happy gene' challenges the common perception of link between depression and obesity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121120084725.htm
McMaster University. "'Obese but happy gene' challenges the common perception of link between depression and obesity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121120084725.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) Yale researchers tested 135 men and women, and it was only obese women who were deemed to have "impaired associative learning." Video provided by Newsy
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