While most people are under the assumption that obesity is something that is preventable via diet and exercise, a new study reveals there is such a thing as a genetic mutation that can affect weight can: as it turns out, millions within the United States have it.
Medical News Today revealed that the research used mice as a way to examine this gene and offer an insight on how it would work with humans. As it seems, mice with the ankyrin-B genetic mutation are fatter than those mice that don’t have it. This gene is found in every bodily tissue and tie proteins inside of a membrane cell. The effects of ankyrin-B were found some years back by a Ph.D. student, Jane Healey, who worked alongside Dr. Vann Bennett, senior author of the study at hand. Interestingly enough, ankyrin-B was first seen by the very same Bennett, over 30 years ago.
To understand why the mice with this gene were fatter than their other rodent friends, Healey developed mice that had ankyrin-B variations within. The researchers noticed that the mice got fatter quite quickly. What happened was the mice stored calories within the fat tissue, rather than spreading them across to other tissues in the body so that they could be burned when creating energy. However, as Dr. Bennett explained, the team still didn’t understand how this gene worked.
Dr. Bennett embarked on new research, along with Damaris Lorenzo from the University of North Carolina to find out.
What the team ended up doing for the study was completely ridding the mice of the ankyrin-B. The researchers repeated past experiments and discovered that the rodents whose fat cells that were gone ended up being twice as big; even though the mice were eating the same as their fellow furry friends that were normal in weight and exercising as well.
Lorenzo stated that the team discovered quickly that the increased gatherings of lipids within the fat cells had spilled into the muscles and liver. She added that this also led to inflammation and a disruption in response to insulin, which also happens to be a sign of type 2 diabetes. Lorenzo noted that this series of events is quite similar to what happens to a human when they become obese, which is why obesity can be such a health issue for the public.
Additional experiments showed that deleting or mutating the gene also altered another gene that opened the door for blood sugar to get into fat cells.
Dr. Bennett added, the team referred to this finding as fault-free obesity. Bennett also noted that it may have assisted ancestors during famine to store energy, but in today’s day and age where food is abundant, the ankyrin-B gene simply adds to the obesity issue society faces.
As per the team, approximately 8.4% of African Americans carry this gene and 1.3% of Caucasians across the United States.