AURORA, Colo. — Good news for anyone trying to keep body weight under control. University of Colorado School of Medicine researchers say they have discovered a gene that may cause obesity.
They also say that deleting that gene in mice prevents them from gaining weight, even on a high fat diet.
“When fed a diet that should make mice get fat, they simply don’t,” said Dr. James McManaman, lead author of the study.
“We think that by removing the Plin2 gene, which produces a protein that regulates fat storage and metabolism, humans, like the mice, will somehow become resistant to obesity.”
The fat cells in the mice were also 20 percent smaller than typical mice and did not show the kind of inflammation usually associated with obesity.
Fatty liver disease, common in obese humans and rodents, was absent in the mice without the Plin2 gene.
Dr. McManaman says, “The mice were healthier with lower triglyceride levels, they were more insulin-sensitive, and had no incidents of fatty liver disease and levels of inflammation in the fatty cells.”
Researchers say the discovery “could mean we have finally found a way to disrupt obesity in humans which would be a major breakthrough.”