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DNA methylation levels linked to obesity

April 12, 2019
University of Malaga
A multidisciplinary study has linked DNA methylation levels to the development of the metabolic disease associated with obesity. A multidisciplinary work that has been carried out by biologists, surgeons and endocrinologists and conducted in patients with metabolic risk factors such as high levels of glucose (hyperglycemia), triglycerides (hypertriglyceridemia), blood pressure (hypertension), abdominal obesity and low levels of good cholesterol (HDL).

DNA methylation is a mechanism that regulates whether genes are "on" or "off," and is influenced by hereditary and environmental factors, as well as lifestyle and nutritional habits.

This research demonstrates that methylation levels in the gene involved in lipid metabolism -Lipoprotein lipase (LPL)- are higher in obese people with a metabolic disease than in healthy people. "Since this gene is essential to decide whether the fat ingested is stored or consumed by the tissues, a dysfunction of this gene would cause high levels of triglycerides in blood," explains the main author, Daniel Castellano.

In this regard, experts say that dysfunctional lipid metabolism in obesity is associated with a higher systemic inflammation, diabetes, cardiovascular disease or even cancer.

Likewise, this study also describes a lower DNA methylation in a gene related to inflammatory processes, such as the tumor necrosis factor (TNF), which may cause a higher functioning of this gene, which, in turn, may affect the pro-inflammatory condition observed in obese people with a metabolic disease.

Consequently, the main researchers of the study, Fernando Cardona and María Isabel Queipo, both members of Group A02 of the Biomedical Research Institute of Malaga (IBIMA), coordinated by Francisco José Tinahones, conclude that the methylation levels of genes related to lipid metabolism and inflammation are altered in obese patients with a metabolic disease, which partially explains the development of this disease.

The importance of epigenetic regulation

Thus, they point out the importance of epigenetic regulation in the origin of metabolic diseases and affirm that the study of epigenetic mechanisms is essential for developing new therapeutic strategies to face these pathologies, as well as for determining lifestyle habits that may prevent these alterations in DNA methylation.

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Materials provided by University of Malaga. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Daniel Castellano-Castillo, Isabel Moreno-Indias, Lidia Sanchez-Alcoholado, Bruno Ramos-Molina, Juan Alcaide-Torres, Sonsoles Morcillo, Luis Ocaña-Wilhelmi, Francisco Tinahones, María Queipo-Ortuño, Fernando Cardona. Altered Adipose Tissue DNA Methylation Status in Metabolic Syndrome: Relationships Between Global DNA Methylation and Specific Methylation at Adipogenic, Lipid Metabolism and Inflammatory Candidate Genes and Metabolic Variables. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 2019; 8 (1): 87 DOI: 10.3390/jcm8010087

Cite This Page:

University of Malaga. "DNA methylation levels linked to obesity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 April 2019. <>.
University of Malaga. (2019, April 12). DNA methylation levels linked to obesity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 7, 2023 from
University of Malaga. "DNA methylation levels linked to obesity." ScienceDaily. (accessed December 7, 2023).

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