British and French researchers have identified the gene known as ENPP1 as the link between obesity and diabetes, as it regulates the body's response to insulin. This gene explains how obesity often is associated with type 2 diabetes, and it may offer treatment options and help in identifying at-risk groups.
Investigators targeted 62 families with a history of obesity and diabetes and found in common the ENPP1 gene. Then they researched more than 4000 Europeans?some obese and some not?and found 11 different variations of the gene, which is a single nucleotide polymorphism. Six of the 11 variations were linked to obesity. The ENPP1 gene helps to control a cell's response to insulin and glucose. Among the children in the study, researchers found that ENPP1 appeared to mimic insulin resistance in the brain, where appetite is suppressed. The team suggested that particular forms of this gene interfere with both appetite and the body's ability to use insulin correctly.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.