A gene implicated in the development of obesity is also associated with susceptibility to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The FTO gene has recently been shown to influence a person's predisposition to obesity, and this research is the first evidence to show a genetic link between obesity and PCOS.
PCOS affects up to 1-in-10 women of child-bearing age. It affects the ovaries and is characterized by irregular periods, excessive hair growth and is a common cause of infertility. it is strongly associated with obesity, and it is thought that the prevalence of PCOS will increase with rising levels of obesity. The FTO gene is known to influence weight. There are two versions of this gene, one of which is associated with increased weight gain and susceptibility to development of obesity.
Researcher Tom Barber, from the University of Oxford, investigated whether variants of the FTO gene also influence susceptibility to PCOS. To this end, they analyzed the type of FTO gene carried by 463 PCOS patients and 1336 female population controls.
He found that the type of FTO gene a person carried significantly influenced their susceptibility to PCOS. In fact, the version of the gene which is associated with increased weight gain is also associated with PCOS. The data suggest that FTO variants influence PCOS-susceptibility via an effect on fat mass. This is the first gene to be associated convincingly with susceptibility to PCOS and provides genetic evidence to corroborate the well established link between PCOS and obesity.
"Our future work will focus on elucidating the underlying mechanisms of polycystic ovary syndrome and its metabolic consequences with the hope of understanding how this common condition develops. This in turn will instruct future therapeutic developments for women who suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome," noted Barber.
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Source: Society for Endocrinology