Gene mutation found to burn fat faster

Recent research conducted at Lancaster, Pennsylvania have uncovered a gene mutation which burns fat faster.

The study which uncovered a gene mutation which burns fat faster, was conducted on 809 members of the Old Order Amish community. It involved going to the clinic in Lancaster and drinking a rick milk shake made mostly of heavy cream. Their blood was sampled over the next six hours and the amount of triglycerides – a type of fat –  in their blood stream was assessed.

Most of them responded as expected. The blood level of triglycerides rose for 3-4 hours and then decreased. But nearly 5% of them responded differently. Their triglyceride level started out at a low level and showed hardly any increase.

The researchers have linked this interesting phenomenon, to a mutation in a gene – apoC-III. This is the gene which is responsible for production of the protein APOC3, which slows down the metabolism of triglycerides.

In the individuals with the mutated copy of the gene, the breakdown of triglycerides occured extremely quickly and hence resulted in hardly any increase in the blood level of triglycerides. Also, they had low levels of LDL – the bad cholesterol – high levels of which tends to be bad for the heart. Their HDL – the good cholesterol – was at a higher level too. This coincided with a lower level of arterial plaques – the factor responsible for heart attacks and strokes.

The gene responsible for this was identified after rigorous research led by Toni I. Pollin, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Alan R. Shuldiner, head of the division of endocrinology, diabetes and nutrition at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore suggested that the Amish were ideal for the research as they were an isolated population living in this country for 14 generations and they shared many genes. The gene mutation was traced back to a member of the Amish community who lived in the 18th century.

The gene is also influenced by insulin, said Dr. Daniel J. Rader, a heart disease researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, and individuals with diabetes have higher levels of APOC3 protein, resulting in high levels of triglycerides and in turn an increased risk of heart disease.

This discovery opens up a new area of research. This could possibly help in decreasing the incidence of heart disease in the population and also for the treatment of heart disease. Clinical applications of this new discovery may take many years to be made available to the public.