Genetic Variant Connected with Obesity
by langm349 on May 7, 2017 - 4:13pm
It is well known that there is a current problem with obesity rates in America. It is also common to see a family where many of the members are overweight or obese. While an individual’s diet and activity level plays an important role in a person’s weight, a recent study has found that there may be a genetic factor involved. Published in the journal Obesity, researchers found an association between obesity in African Americans and West Africans, and a genetic difference in the semaphorin-4D gene (SEMA4D). The SEMA4D gene is in involved in cell signaling, bone formation and the immune response in the body. Although most genomic studies on obesity have been done one people of European decent, African Americans have the highest age-adjusted rates of obesity. This study was completed by using a Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS), which compares genomes of those that are obese and those that aren’t. This study is first of its kind because the previous studies that were done on individuals of European or Asian descent, would not of shown the SEMA4D gene variation because it isn’t present in that ethnicity. The study examined obese and non-obese individuals in West Africa and then replicated the study in a large group of African Americans. It was found that those with the SEMA4D variant were on average 6 pounds heavier than those without the variant. Researchers hope to organize another study on the DNA sequencing of this gene in other populations, possibly discovering more genetic factors contributing to obesity.
Mjoseth, Jeannine. "2017 News Release: Study identifies African-specific genomic variant associated with obesity." National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). N.p., 13 Mar. 2017. Web. 07 May 2017.