Genetics Partially at Fault

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The PC-1 gene may be responsible for the growing statistics of diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, and some forms of cancer. Researchers have suspected that an individual's genetic makeup could be the culprit behind many cases of insulin resistance. Early research, however, ruled out the primary genetic suspects rather than implicating them.

The current study involving >6000 individuals in France buoyed findings from 10 years ago that high levels of PC-1 are most likely responsible for some of the problems. Although everyone has the gene, the researchers noted that some individuals have a form of it that not only is overactive but also is overproduced in the body. For this population, insulin does not work effectively, and so the body tries to overcompensate. This action can wear out the pancreas and trigger type 2 diabetes, or it can burden the kidneys and result in hypertension. The researchers now think that, if too much PC-1 is produced in the brain, individuals do not get adequately full after eating, leading to obesity. (The findings were reported in Nature Genetics, August 2005.)