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J Lipid Res. 2008 Mar;49(3):607-11. Epub 2007 Nov 29.

The common rs9939609 gene variant of the fat mass- and obesity-associated gene FTO is related to fat cell lipolysis.

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Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.


We investigated the rs9939609 single nucleotide polymorphism of the FTO gene in relation to fat cell function and adipose tissue gene expression in 306 healthy women with a wide range in body mass index (18-53 kg/m(2)). Subcutaneous adipose tissue biopsies were taken for fat cell metabolism studies and in a subgroup (n = 90) for gene expression analyses. In homozygous carriers of the T-allele, the in vitro basal (spontaneous) adipocyte glycerol release was increased by 22% (P = 0.007) and the in vivo plasma glycerol level was increased by approximately 30% (P = 0.037) compared with carriers of the A allele. In contrast, there were no genotype effects on catecholamine-stimulated lipolysis or basal or insulin-induced lipogenesis. We found no difference between genotypes for adipose tissue mRNA levels of FTO, hormone-sensitive lipase, adipose triglyceride lipase, perilipin, or CGI-58. Finally, the adipose tissue level of FTO mRNA was increased in obesity (P = 0.002), was similar in subcutaneous and omental adipose tissue, was higher in fat cells than in fat tissue (P = 0.0007), and was induced at an early stage in the differentiation process (P = 0.004). These data suggest a role of the FTO gene in fat cell lipolysis, which may be important in explaining why the gene is implicated in body weight regulation.

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