Newly Discovered Gene in Brown Fat May be Crucial for Future Treatment of Obesity

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By : Suvarna Sheth

A team of researchers from Denmark, Germany, and Austria has made a groundbreaking discovery in obesity research.

They have discovered a new function of the gene H19. This gene proves to have a unique protective effect against becoming overweight. The discovery could affect the onset of diseases associated with being overweight such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

H19 belongs to the one percent of our genes which we inherit exclusively from either our mother or father, the so-called monoallelic genes.

As a result of extensive studies, the researchers have also discovered how genes derived from our father primarily lead to the development of white fat tissue, which most often are found on the stomach, thighs, and backside, and which can lead to metabolic diseases.

Likewise, it appears that genes from our mother primarily lead to the development of brown fat tissue, which is characterized by having a protective effect against obesity.

“By using mouse models, we have identified that the gene H19 performs a form of gene control in brown fat cells,” says Professor Jan-Wilhelm Kornfeld. “We have been able to demonstrate that an overexpression of the H19 gene in mice protects against obesity and insulin resistance.”

In addition, the researchers have been able to detect similar patterns of gene control in obese people.

“We, therefore, believe that our results can be the first step towards developing groundbreaking new and improved treatments for obesity-related diseases,” says Kornfeld.

Research has been published in the journal Nature Communications.