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PLoS One. 2013 Nov 20;8(11):e79466. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079466. eCollection 2013.

Interaction between the NOS3 gene and obesity as a determinant of risk of type 2 diabetes: the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study.

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Human Genetics Center, School of Public Health, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas, United States of America.


Endothelial nitric oxide synthase 3 (NOS3) catalyzes the production of nitric oxide from L-arginine in endothelial cells. Obesity is a modifiable risk factor for diabetes, and obese individuals have been reported to have reduced nitric oxide availability compared to controls whose weight is in the normal range. Since homozygous carriers of the NOS3 G894T variant are predicted to have decreased enzyme activity, the association between NOS3 genotype and type 2 diabetes, and possible effect modification by body mass index (BMI) were evaluated. The prevalence of diabetes and BMI was determined at baseline in 14,374 participants 45-66 years of age from the prospective biracial population-based Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study of the development of atherosclerosis in four communities in the United States. Individuals with a BMI ≥30 kg/m(2) were considered obese. Those subjects not meeting the case definition were the comparison groups for the 728 African American and 980 white participants with diabetes. Multivariable logistic regression models adjusted for age, sex, and field center were used to test for main genetic effects and interaction with obesity. Although the NOS3 G894T variant was not independently associated with diabetes in either African Americans or whites, significant interaction between BMI and the NOS3 polymorphism indicated that obesity was an effect modifier of diabetes risk for white individuals with the TT genotype (odds ratio (OR) for interaction = 1.65, p = 0.04). In stratified analyses, homozygosity for the NOS3 T allele in obese white participants but not in those whose BMI <30 kg/m(2) was associated with an elevated risk of diabetes (OR = 1.47, p = 0.02) when compared to the common GG genotype. These results suggest that interaction between obesity and NOS3 genotype may be a determinant of diabetes case status in whites in the ARIC cohort. Replication in other populations will be required to confirm these observations.

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