The theory behind most diets seems simple enough: Eat less calories; Lose more weight. But we all know that’s way easier said than done, and now there’s some epigenetic reasons why. A new study found that promoter methylation of key obesity linked genes can predict the success of low-calorie diets.
Researchers from the University of Navarra in Spain studied the effects of an 8-week, low-calorie diet on a group of 27 obese women through anthropometric stats and blood samples. But unlike the usual weight loss trial the team also used genomic DNA and RNA from adipose tissue biopsies to monitor DNA methylation and gene expression of two genes with close ties to obesity, TNF-alpha and Leptin. The team performed MSP on samples converted with QIAGEN’s EpiTect Bisulfite Kit. Here’s what they found from the before and after snapshots:
- 21 patients lost more than 5% of their initial body weight
- Methylation Specific PCR (MSP) found that those successful dieters had lower initial levels of DNA methylation in both TNF-alpha and Leptin promoters
- Promoter methylation patterns were not altered during the low-calorie regimen
- Baseline Leptin and TNF-alpha gene expression was similar in both diet responders and non-responders, while Leptin levels dropped in responders, post diet
So the Spanish scientists found that higher promoter methylation levels in TNF-alpha and Leptin really took a bite out of the effectiveness of the low-calorie diet plan. They plan to investigate further if TNF-alpha/Leptin promoter methylation measured by MSP can be used as a biomarker to predict diet effectiveness, or potentially to help tailor individual weight-loss strategies.
Get all of the tasty, but low-cal details at Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry, April 2010.