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Study Analyzes Role of STAT3 Genetic Variants in Obesity

Variants found to influence the risk of obesity, which is modulated by saturated fat intake

THURSDAY, Oct. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Intake of dietary saturated fat may exacerbate the effects of certain gene mutations associated with body weight regulation and glucose homeostasis, according to a study in the November issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

Catherine M. Phillips, Ph.D., of University College in Dublin, Ireland, and colleagues conducted a study of 1,754 patients with the metabolic syndrome and matched controls. The researchers gathered information on the subjects' fat composition, biochemical measurements, and signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) polymorphisms.

The researchers found that there was no association between the risk of having metabolic syndrome and STAT3 polymorphisms, but carriers of certain genes were at higher risk of abdominal obesity. The investigators demonstrated that the more risk alleles the subjects had, the higher the risk of obesity. The effect of these genetic factors was exacerbated by intake of dietary saturated fat, with those who derived at least 15.5 percent of the energy from saturated fat, and who had at least two risk alleles, at 3.3 times the risk of those with no more than one risk allele.

"Understanding the molecular mechanisms whereby STAT3 and STAT3 genetic variants are involved in obesity development and how dietary fatty acids can modulate these processes may be useful in identifying potential therapeutic targets in obesity," the authors write.

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