Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Weight Loss & Diet Plans

Font Size

Gene Slows Obesity in Mice

Natural System Puts Brakes on Fat Gain
WebMD Health News

July 15, 2003 -- Fat people would be much fatter without Foxa-2. The gene puts the brakes on fat gain, mouse studies show.

It also helps the body respond to the hormone insulin. Poor insulin response -- known as insulin resistance -- is a major milestone on the road to diabetes.

Now the trick is to find a way to turn the gene on in people at risk for developing obesity, says study leader Markus Stoffel, MD, PhD, of Rockefeller University in New York. Stoffel and colleagues report the findings in the Aug. 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

"We have shown that Foxa-2 has two beneficial effects in mice," Stoffel says in a news release. "This is the ideal combination for pharmacologically treating obese or type 2 diabetes patients, or people with a risk of developing obesity."

Foxa-2is unlike other known genes linked to obesity. The new findings mark the first time anyone's found a gene that's turned on in fat cells themselves to counteract obesity.

The gene isn't on all the time. In mice, it waits until the animal already is overweight. Then it kicks in. It keeps young cells from turning into fat cells. And it slows down further fat production and storage in mature fat cells.

The researchers think the same thing happens in people.

Interestingly, the researchers found that growth hormone turns on Foxa-2 in cells that don't normally express the gene. That, they suggest, is why growth hormone has anti-fat effects. But they warn against the use of growth hormone to lose weight.

"We do not believe that growth hormone is responsible for the induction of Foxa-2 in obesity," Stoffel says. "And we can't give growth hormone to patients because there are too many negative side effects."

Today on WebMD

feet on scale
Woman looking at reflection in mirror
Hot cup of coffee
woman shopping fresh produce
butter curl on knife
eating out healthy
Smiling woman, red hair
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
What Girls Need To Know About Eating Disorders
teen squeezing into jeans
fitfor Teens