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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008 Aug;16(8):1969-72. doi: 10.1038/oby.2008.283. Epub 2008 May 29.

Impact of variation in the FTO gene on whole body fat distribution, ectopic fat, and weight loss.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetology, Angiology, Nephrology and Clinical Chemistry, Eberhard-Karls-University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.


Polymorphisms in the fat mass- and obesity-associated (FTO) gene have been identified to be associated with obesity and diabetes in large genome-wide association studies. We hypothesized that variation in the FTO gene has an impact on whole body fat distribution and insulin sensitivity, and influences weight change during lifestyle intervention. To test this hypothesis, we genotyped 1,466 German subjects, with increased risk for type 2 diabetes, for single-nucleotide polymorphism rs8050136 in the FTO gene and estimated glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity from an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). Distribution of fat depots was quantified using whole body magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and spectroscopy in 298 subjects. Two-hundred and four subjects participated in a lifestyle intervention program and were examined after a follow-up of 9 months. In the cross-sectional analysis, the A allele of rs8050136 in FTO was associated with a higher BMI, body fat, and lean body mass (all P < 0.001). There was a significant effect of variation in the FTO gene on subcutaneous fat (P < or = 0.05) and a trend for liver fat content, nonvisceral adipose tissue, and visceral fat (all P < or = 0.1). However, the single-nucleotide polymorphism was not associated with insulin sensitivity or secretion independent of BMI (all P > 0.05). During lifestyle intervention, there was also no influence of the FTO polymorphism on changes in body weight or fat distribution. In conclusion, despite an association with BMI and whole body fat distribution, variation in the FTO locus has no effect on the success of a lifestyle intervention program.

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