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Genetics

Biomarkers associated with a better weight loss

Could help predict an individual's response to weight loss intervention

Researchers have identified five epigenetic biomarkers in adolescents that were associated with a better weight loss at the beginning of a weight loss programme. Writing in the FASEB journal, they authors claim that identifying the epigenetic biomarkers could ultimately help predict an individual's response to weight loss intervention and therapeutic targets for enhancing a weight loss programme's effects.

"If you've ever wondered why some people seem to do so well on a diet and exercise plan and other fail so miserably, then now we know that the way that genes express themselves (via epigenetics) plays an important role," said Dr Gerald Weissmann, MEditor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "This report moves us a step closer when we will be able to prescribe a weight loss program tailored to more than just the lifestyle and conditioning level of the patient, but also to his or her particular genetic and epigenetic profile."

Dr Amelia Martí, co-author of this study from the Department of Nutrition, Food Science, Physiology and Toxicology at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. and colleagues performed a global methylation assay in 24 adolescents who had the best and worst response to the EVASYON weight loss programme, and then expanded the sample to include 83 more adolescents.

The EVASYON programme is a lifestyle and nutritional educational weight loss program that includes a multidisciplinary team of nutritionists, physiotherapists, psychologists and pediatricians. EVASYON was conducted in five Spanish cities: Granada, Madrid, Pamplona, Santander and Zaragoza.

In recent years, epigenetic markers emerged as a new tool to understand the influence of lifestyle factors on obesity phenotypes. Adolescence is considered an important epigenetic window over a human's lifetime.

The objective of this work was to explore baseline changes in DNA methylation that could be associated with a better weight loss response after a multidisciplinary intervention program in Spanish obese or overweight adolescents. Overweight or obese adolescents (n=107) undergoing ten weeks of a multidisciplinary intervention for weight loss were assigned as high or low responders to the treatment.

A methylation microarray was performed to search for baseline epigenetic differences between the two groups (12 subjects/group), and MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry was used to validate (n=107) relevant CpG sites and surrounding regions.

After validation, five regions located in or near AQP9, DUSP22, HIPK3, TNNT1, and TNNI3 genes showed differential methylation levels between high and low responders to the multidisciplinary weight loss intervention.

They concluded that a calculated methylation score was “significantly associated” with changes in weight, BMI-SDS, and body fat mass loss after the treatment.

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