Authors: Schlauch KA, Kulick D, Subramanian K, De Meirleir KL, Palotás A, Lombardi VC.
Publication: Int J Obes (Lond). 2018 Aug 17. doi: 10.1038/s41366-018-0181-3. [Epub ahead of print]

Obesity is an important risk factor for the development of diseases such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and dyslipidemia; however, a small number of individuals with long-standing obesity do not present with these cardiometabolic diseases. Such individuals are referred to as metabolically healthy obese (MHO) and potentially represent a subgroup of the general population with a protective genetic predisposition to obesity-related diseases. We hypothesized that individuals who were metabolically healthy, but significantly obese (BMI ≥ 35 kg/m2) would represent a highly homogenous subgroup, with which to investigate potential genetic associations to obesity. We further hypothesized that such a cohort may lend itself well to investigate potential genotypes that are protective with respect to the development of cardiometabolic disease.

In the present study, we implemented this novel selection strategy by screening 892 individuals diagnosed as Class 2 or Class 3 obese and identified 38 who presented no manifestations of cardiometabolic disease. We then assessed these subjects for single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that associated with this phenotype.

Our analysis identified 89 SNPs that reach statistical significance (p < 1 × 10-5), some of which are associated with genes of biological pathways that influences dietary behavior; others are associated with genes previously linked to obesity and cardiometabolic disease as well as neuroimmune disease. This study, to the best of our knowledge, represents the first genetic screening of a cardiometabolically healthy, but significantly obese population.