Not Only Size Matters: Genetic Megastudies Draw Out Distinctions Between Obesity and Waist-Hip Ratio

Independent of Obesity Itself, WHR is a Key Indicator of Risk of Diabetes, Heart Disease and Mortality, and Appears to be Regulated Differently in Women and Men

Oct 11, 2010, 06:13 ET from DeCODE Genetics Inc

REYKJAVIK, Iceland, October 11, 2010 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- In two of the largest metastudies of their kind to date, scientists from the GIANT consortium, including deCODE as well as hundreds of academic institutions on three continents, today report the discovery of eighteen new regions of the human genome contributing to obesity and thirteen new regions influencing waist-hip ratio (WHR). The studies bring together data on body mass index (BMI, a measure of obesity), WHR (a measure of body fat distribution), and detailed genotypic information, from more than a quarter of a million participants from Europe, North America and Australia. The findings demonstrate the effectiveness of collaborations such as GIANT for powering studies large enough to detect lower-impact genetic factors for common traits and diseases.

"To my mind, perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of these findings is that it has indeed been possible to find so many loci for WHR that are independent of BMI. Most of the BMI loci appear to affect central and neuronal processes regulating satiety and appetite. By contrast, the WHR loci appear to be involved in the development and distribution of adipose tissue. Thus, the genetics seems to be pointing us to biological distinctions between two components of the regulation of weight - how much we eat, and how and where calories are stored as fat. Also intriguing, many of the WHR loci show a significantly greater impact in women than in men, a distinction that is stronger here than in any other disease or trait we have looked at. From a health perspective, the distinctions drawn here between BMI and WHR are steps towards better understanding the role of these two traits as risk factors for a range of diseases," said Kari Stefansson, deCODE CEO and a senior author on the BMI study.

The papers, "Association analyses of 249,796 individuals reveal eighteen new loci associated with body mass index," and "Meta-analysis identifies 13 novel loci associated with waist-hip ratio and reveals sexual dimorphism in the genetic basis of fat distribution," are published online in Nature Genetics at http://www.nature.com/ng and will appear in an upcoming print edition of the journal.

About deCODE

Headquartered in Reykjavik, Iceland, deCODE genetics is a global leader in analyzing and understanding the human genome. Using its unique expertise and population resources, deCODE has discovered key genetic risk factors for dozens of common diseases ranging from cardiovascular disease to cancer. deCODE employs its capabilities to develop DNA-based tests and personal genome scans to better understand individual risk and empower prevention. It licenses its tests, intellectual property and analytical tools to partners, and conducts genotyping, sequencing and data analysis for companies and research institutions around the globe. Through its CLIA- and CAP-certified laboratory deCODE offers DNA-based tests for gauging risk and empowering prevention of common diseases, including deCODE Glaucoma(TM); deCODE T2(TM) for type 2 diabetes; deCODE AF(TM) for atrial fibrillation and stroke; deCODE MI(TM) for heart attack; deCODE ProstateCancer(TM); and deCODE BreastCancer, for the common forms of breast cancer. Through its pioneering personal genome analysis service deCODEme(TM), deCODE enables individuals to better understand their risk of dozens of common diseases and to learn about their ancestry and other traits. Visit us on the web at http://www.decode.com; at http://www.decodediagnostics.com; at www.decodeme.com; and on our blog at http://www.decodeyou.com.

    Contacts:

    Edward Farmer                    Gisli Arnason
    +354-863-1923                    +354-570-1825
    edward.farmer@decode.is          gisli.arnason@decode.is


SOURCE DeCODE Genetics Inc