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Gene Variant Lowers Risk of Heart Disease and Diabetes

aP2 protein found in adipocytes and binds fatty acids

WEDNESDAY, April 26 (HealthDay News) -- Individuals carrying a variant of a gene found in adipocytes have a lower risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, according to a study published online in April 25 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

Eric Rimm, Sc.D., of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues sequenced the promoter and coding region of the aP2 gene in 96 predominantly white males and females, and identified five single nucleotide polymorphisms. The aP2 protein is the major fatty acid binding protein in adipocytes, the researchers note, and mice deficient in aP2 are less prone to obesity-induced insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, have lower circulating triglycerides and are protected against atherosclerosis.

The researchers found that the T-87C polymorphism resulted in less aP2 protein produced due to a reduction in promoter activity. In a population of 7,899 individuals, those carrying the polymorphism had lower serum triglycerides and a significantly reduced risk of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes compared with those carrying the wild-type gene, according to the study.

"Taken together, our results indicate that reduction of aP2 activity in humans generate a metabolically favorable phenotype that is similar to aP2 deficiency in experimental models," Rimm and colleagues conclude.

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