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Diabetes and Endocrinology - Gastroenterology and Hepatology - Pediatrics and Child Health - Public Health and Epidemiology

The Association of PNPLA3 Variants with Liver Enzymes in Childhood Obesity Is Driven by the Interaction with Abdominal Fat
Published: Monday, November 28, 2011
Author: Emanuele Miraglia del Giudice et al.

by Emanuele Miraglia del Giudice, Anna Grandone, Grazia Cirillo, Nicola Santoro, Alessandra Amato, Carmine Brienza, Piera Savarese, Pierluigi Marzuillo, Laura Perrone

Background and Aims

A polymorphism in adiponutrin/patatin-like phospholipase-3 gene (PNPLA3), rs738409 C->G, encoding for the I148M variant, is the strongest genetic determinant of liver fat and ALT levels in adulthood and childhood obesity. Aims of this study were i) to analyse in a large group of obese children the role of the interaction of not-genetic factors such as BMI, waist circumference (W/Hr) and insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) in exposing the association between the I148M polymorphism and ALT levels and ii) to stratify the individual risk of these children to have liver injury on the basis of this gene-environment interaction.


1048 Italian obese children were investigated. Anthropometric, clinical and metabolic data were collected and the PNPLA3 I148M variant genotyped.


Children carrying the 148M allele showed higher ALT and AST levels (p?=?0.000006 and p?=?0.0002, respectively). Relationships between BMI-SDS, HOMA-IR and W/Hr with ALT were analysed in function of the different PNPLA3 genotypes. Children 148M homozygous showed a stronger correlation between ALT and W/Hr than those carrying the other genotypes (p: 0.0045) and, therefore, 148M homozygotes with high extent of abdominal fat (W/Hr above 0.62) had the highest OR (4.9, 95% C. I. 3.2–7.8, p?=?0.00001) to develop pathologic ALT.


We have i) showed for the first time that the magnitude of the association of PNPLA3 with liver enzymes is driven by the size of abdominal fat and ii) stratified the individual risk to develop liver damage on the basis of the interaction between the PNPLA3 genotype and abdominal fat.