Common Variants inFTOAre Not Significantly Associated with Obesity-Related Phenotypes among Samoans of Polynesia

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The association between obesity and the fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) gene has been widely replicated among Caucasian populations. The limited number of studies assessing its significance in Asian populations has been somewhat conflicting. We performed a genetic association study of 51 tagging, genome-wide association studies, and imputed single nucleotide polymorphisms with 12 measures of adiposity and skeletal robustness in two Samoan populations of Polynesia. We included 465 and 624 unrelated American Samoan and Samoan individuals, respectively; these populations derive from a single genetic background traced to Southeast Asia and represent one sociocultural unit, although they are economically disparate with distinct environmental exposures. American Samoans were significantly larger than Samoans in all measures of obesity and most measures of skeletal robustness. In separate analyses of American Samoa and Samoa, we found a total of 36 nominal associations between FTO variants and skeletal and obesity measures. The preponderance of these nominal associations (32 of 36) was observed in the Samoan population, and predominantly with skeletal rather than fat mass measures (28 of 36). All significance disappeared, however, following corrections for multiple testing. Based on these findings, it could be surmised that FTO is not likely a major obesity locus in Polynesian populations.

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