Effect of genetic variation in the leptin gene promoter and the leptin receptor gene on obesity risk in a population-based case-control study in Spain

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There are no good genetic markers for incorporating the study of genetic susceptibility to obesity in epidemiological studies. In animal models, the leptin (LEP) and the leptin receptor (LEPR) genes have been shown to be very important in obesity because leptin functions as a negative feedback signal in regulating body-weight through reducing food intake and stimulating energy expenditure. In humans, several polymorphisms in these genes have been described. However, their association with obesity is still very controversial because there are no good case-control studies designed to specifically test this association. Our objective has been to conduct a population-based case-control study to estimate the risk of obesity arising from the −2548G > A and Q223R polymorphisms in the LEP and LEPR genes, respectively. 303 obese cases (101 men and 202 women) and 606 controls (202 men and 404 women) were selected from a Spanish Mediterranean population. Genetic, clinical and life-style characteristics were analyzed. No association was found between the −2548G > A polymorphism and obesity. However, the Q223R variant was significantly associated with obesity in a recessive model, the RR genotype being more prevalent in controls than in obese subjects. The inverse association between the Q223R polymorphism and obesity (OR = 0.62; 95% CI: 0.39-0.99) remained significant even after additional adjustment for education, tobacco smoking, alcohol, physical activity, origin of the obese patient, and the −2548G > A polymorphism in the LEP gene (OR = 0.54; 95% CI: 0.32-0.89). In conclusion, the −2548G > A polymorphism is not a relevant obesity marker in this Mediterranean population, although Q223R does seen to be so.

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