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Gene in Focus: Part 23 - PPARG

Posted 895 Days Ago in: Genetics, Nutrition


This week we look at PPARG, a gene that appears in both our carbohydrate and fat sensitivity panels within our diet report. This gene creates a protein known as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, which plays a role in the formation of fat cells, as well as the use of fats and carbohydrates as a source of energy.

The single nucleotide polymorphism we are most interested in is known as Pro12Ala, and results from the amino acid proline (Pro) being substitute for the amino acid alanine (Ala). The Ala form of this gene, denoted by a G allele, is associated with a reduced expression of certain genes, which is thought to reduce the risk of weight gain – as such, C allele carriers have an increased risk of weight gain, especially when dietary carbohydrates or saturated fat is high. The C allele is also associated with an increased risk of developing insulin resistance, which can lead to type-II diabetes, and also contribute to the development of metabolic syndrome.


A study published in the journal Human Molecular Genetics in 2003 examined the relationship between the different PPARG genotypes and risk of obesity. After collecting data from 2141 women, the researchers calculated an average daily intake of fat for each person, and compared it to their BMI. They found that the Pro12Ala SNP had an effect on the risk of obesity at different intakes of fat. For CC (Pro-Pro) genotypes, those in the highest 20% of fat intake had a higher risk of obesity than those in the lower intake groups, and in fact they were over three times more likely to be obese compared to those in the lowest 20%W of fat intake. However, in GG (Ala-Ala) genotypes, this relationship didn’t exist – showing quite nicely that those with the C allele are perhaps more sensitive to increases in BMI with higher intakes of both fats and carbohydrates, and so might be well placed with a more balanced diet, such as the Mediterranean Diet, with it’s focus on whole grains, lean protein, and moderate amounts of dairy products and olive oils.


The above study, and others like it, are a great example of why a one-size-fits-all approach to dieting is not ideal – because of differences in our genes, but also our environment, what works for one person might not work for another. That’s why knowing and understanding what versions of key genes, such as PPARG, that you possess can be really useful in enhancing weight loss, or reducing weight gain. The effects of PPARG are summarised in the below table:


PPARG Genotype



Individuals with the CC genotype are likely to be more sensitive to the negative effects of fats and refined carbohydrates within the diet. As such, they should consume wholegrain carbohydrates, as well as fruits and vegetables, alongside a moderate intake of fats – with a focus on poly- and mono-unsaturated fatty acids.


Neither genotype is associated with an increased sensitivity to refined carbohydrates or saturated fats.



Gene in Focus Fat Sensitivity Weight management Saturated fat

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