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H19 gene and obesity

H19 gene has a unique protective effect against becoming overweight

H19 is among the genes inherited exclusively from either the mother or father, the so-called monoallelic genes

A multi-institutional team of researchers has discovered that the gene H19 has a unique protective effect against becoming overweight and consequently could affect the onset of overweight-associated disease such as diabetes, overweight and cardiovascular diseases. H19 is among the genes inherited exclusively from either the mother or father, the so-called monoallelic genes. As a result of extensive studies, the researchers from Germany, Austria and Denmarl also discovered how genes derived primarily from the father lead to the development of white fat tissue, which is most often found on the stomach, thighs and backside, and which can lead to metabolic diseases.

The team led by Jan-Wilhelm Kornfeld, Elena Schmidt and Martin Bilban published their results, ‘LincRNA H19 protects from dietary obesity by constraining expression of monoallelic genes in brown fat’, in the journal Nature Communications.

The also noted that it appears that genes inherited from the mother primarily lead to the development of brown fat tissue, which is characterised by a protective effect against obesity. According to the researchers, the results could constitute a first step toward the development of better treatments of obesity.

"By using mouse models, we have identified that the gene H19 performs a form of gene control in brown fat cells,” explained 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, we have been able to detect similar patterns of gene control in obese people. We therefore believe that our results can be the first step toward developing ground breaking new and improved treatments for obesity-related diseases."

To access this paper, please click here

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