Single Mutation Increases Obesity Risk, Decreases Diabetes Risk

According to the findings of a small study appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine, one genetic mutation could be responsible for both increased obesity risk and lowered diabetes risk.

A give-and-take mutation

Research scientists out of the University of Oxford in England, along with their colleagues, found that patients who had a mutation in the phosphate and tensin homologue gene (PTEN) also had substantially decreased levels of insulin resistance, compared to a control arm of healthy counterparts.

Interestingly, they also noted that patients who carried the mutation had higher levels of adiponectin than those in the control arm—something unexpected in obese patients but entirely expected in those with insulin sensitivity.

To reach their conclusions, researchers conducted a study of insulin sensitivity among 15 mutation carriers against 15 matched controls which they found in the UK's Oxford BioBank. The carriers were significantly more obese (mean BMI: 32) than the controls (mean BMI: 26).

Ulf Smith, an MD out of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, commented in an editorial that accompanied the study in the NEJM, "[we] need to know more about the role and complex regulation of PTEN activity in insulin-resistant states in humans," but these findings "further underscore concerns that therapeutic approaches aimed at increasing PTEN activity will effect a decrease in insulin sensitivity and will increase the risk of type 2 diabetes."

Source: MedPage Today

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