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Radiology and Medical Imaging

Detailed Analysis of Variants in FTO in Association with Body Composition in a Cohort of 70-Year-Olds Suggests a Weakened Effect among Elderly
Published: Friday, May 27, 2011
Author: Josefin A. Jacobsson et al.

by Josefin A. Jacobsson, Markus Sällman Almén, Christian Benedict, Lilia A. Hedberg, Karl Michaëlsson, Samantha Brooks, Joel Kullberg, Tomas Axelsson, Lars Johansson, Håkan Ahlström, Robert Fredriksson, Lars Lind, Helgi B. Schiöth


The rs9939609 single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the fat mass and obesity (FTO) gene has previously been associated with higher BMI levels in children and young adults. In contrast, this association was not found in elderly men. BMI is a measure of overweight in relation to the individuals' height, but offers no insight into the regional body fat composition or distribution.


To examine whether the FTO gene is associated with overweight and body composition-related phenotypes rather than BMI, we measured waist circumference, total fat mass, trunk fat mass, leg fat mass, visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue, and daily energy intake in 985 humans (493 women) at the age of 70 years. In total, 733 SNPs located in the FTO gene were genotyped in order to examine whether rs9939609 alone or the other SNPs, or their combinations, are linked to obesity-related measures in elderly humans.


Cross-sectional analysis of the Prospective Investigation of the Vasculature in Uppsala Seniors (PIVUS) cohort.


Neither a single SNP, such as rs9939609, nor a SNP combination was significantly linked to overweight, body composition-related measures, or daily energy intake in elderly humans. Of note, these observations hold both among men and women.


Due to the diversity of measurements included in the study, our findings strengthen the view that the effect of FTO on body composition appears to be less profound in later life compared to younger ages and that this is seemingly independent of gender.