FTO polymorphisms are associated with obesity but not diabetes risk in postmenopausal women

Yiqing Song, Nai Chieh You, Yi Hsiang Hsu, Barbara V. Howard, Robert D. Langer, Jo Ann E. Manson, Lauren Nathan, Tianhua Niu, Lesley F. Tinker, Simin Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

59 Scopus citations


The FTO gene was recently identified as a susceptibility locus for both obesity and type 2 diabetes by whole-genome association analyses of several European populations. We tested for an association between FTO risk alleles and obesity and diabetes in a well-characterized multiethnic cohort of postmenopausal women in the United States. We genotyped two most significantly associated single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (rs9939609 and rs8050136) in intron 1 of FTO gene in a nested case-control study of 1,517 diabetes cases and 2,123 controls from the Women's Health Initiative-Observational Study (WHI-OS). The allelic frequencies of either rs9939609 or rs8050136 differed widely across four ethnic groups. The frequency of the rare allele A of rs9939609 among controls was much lower in Asians/Pacific Islanders (17%) than in blacks (45%), whites (40%), and Hispanics (31%). We found significant associations of rs9939609 with BMI and waist circumference in white and Hispanic women, but not among black and Asian/Pacific Islander women. On average, each copy of the risk-allele A at rs9939609 was significantly associated with 0.45 kg/m 2 increase in BMI (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.16-0.74; P = 0.004) and 0.97 cm increase in waist circumference (95% CI: 0.21-0.65; P = 0.0002). Similar results were observed for rs8050136. However, we found no significant genetic associations with diabetes risk, either within the full study sample or in any ethnic group. In conclusion, common genetic variants in the intron 1 of FTO gene may confer a modest susceptibility to obesity in an ethnicity-specific manner, but may be unlikely to contribute to a clinically significant diabetes risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2472-2480
Number of pages9
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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    Song, Y., You, N. C., Hsu, Y. H., Howard, B. V., Langer, R. D., Manson, J. A. E., Nathan, L., Niu, T., Tinker, L. F., & Liu, S. (2008). FTO polymorphisms are associated with obesity but not diabetes risk in postmenopausal women. Obesity, 16(11), 2472-2480. https://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2008.408