Energy expenditure, body composition and insulin response to glucose in male twins discordant for the Trp64Arg polymorphism of the β3-adrenergic receptor gene

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The tryptophan to arginine change in position 64 (Trp64Arg) polymorphism of the β3-adrenergic receptor (β3AR) gene has been associated with an increased prevalence of obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. In this, decreased rates of energy expenditure and impaired insulin secretion could play a role.


In 10 male twin pairs discordant for the Trp64Arg polymorphism, we examined insulin response to glucose by an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), a frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance test (FSIGT), body composition by the bioimpedance method, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scanning and energy expenditure by indirect and direct calorimetry.


Twins heterozygous for the Trp64Arg polymorphism showed significantly lower fat mass independent of the method used, and significantly lower fasting insulin and glucose concentrations compared with their homozygous wild-type co-twins. Correspondingly, insulin resistance and insulin secretion determined by homeostasis model assessment were significantly lower in twins carrying the Trp64Arg polymorphism. However, there were no significant differences in adiponectin levels, insulinogenic index assessed by OGTT, or insulin sensitivity, acute insulin response to glucose, glucose effectiveness or insulin disposition index assessed by minimal modelling of the FSIGT. Furthermore, there were no differences in sleeping, resting or post-prandial energy expenditure.


In male twins with a high similarity in genetic and environmental background, the Trp64Arg polymorphism of the β3AR gene is associated with lower fat mass, fasting insulin levels and an appropriate insulin response to glucose. Thus, heterozygosity for the Trp64Arg variant is unlikely to increase the risk of obesity, insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes.

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