Genetic modulation of the serotonergic pathway: influence on weight reduction and weight maintenance
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- Wallmeier, D., Winkler, J.K., Fleming, T. et al. Genes Nutr (2013) 8: 601. doi:10.1007/s12263-013-0350-x
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The serotonergic pathway plays a major role in the development of obesity. Its activity can be modulated by the 5-HT transporter–linked polymorphic region in the SLC6A4 gene and the upstream variable number of tandem repeats polymorphism in the MAOA gene. We studied whether these genetic modulations have an influence on weight reduction and weight maintenance in a one-year weight reduction program (OPTIFAST®52). The polymorphisms were genotyped by PCR in a sample of 135 female and 67 male subjects with severe obesity (44 ± 13 years, 122.3 ± 22.2 kg, BMI: 41.7 ± 6.7 kg/m2). The program leads to a total weight loss of 19.9 ± 9.8 kg (16.9 ± 8.3 %) in women and 27.4 ± 13.6 kg (20.4 ± 9.9 %) in men. Anthropometric measurements and blood levels were determined at the start of the program (T0), after the weight reduction phase (T1) and after the subsequent weight maintenance phase at the end of the program (T2). Each polymorphism alone did not significantly influence weight loss or weight maintenance neither in men nor in women. However, women carrying both risk genotypes (SS and 3/3) displayed a lower total weight loss during the program (p = 0.05). This effect derived mainly from difficulties in the weight maintenance phase (p = 0.11), while the weight reduction phase was not affected (p = 0.61). No influence was found in men (p = 0.93). Modulation of the serotonergic pathway by carrying both risk alleles seems to influence success of weight loss programs in women with severe obesity due to problems in stabilizing body weight after weight reduction.