The alpha2-adrenergic receptor gene and body fat content and distribution: The HERITAGE family study

Christophe Garenc, Louis Pérusse, Yvon C. Chagnon, Tuomo Rankinen, Jacques Gagnon, Ingrid B. Borecki, Arthur S. Leon, James S. Skinner, Jack H. Wilmore, D. C. Rao, Claude Bouchard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Background: Among adrenergic receptor subtypes that regulate lipid mobilization, the α2-adrenergic receptor is involved in the inhibition of fatty acid mobilization from adipose tissue. A C-1291G polymorphism is located in the α2-adrenergic receptor gene (ADRA2A) but no association with body fat accumulation has been reported yet. Materials and Methods: Body mass index (BMI), fat mass (FAT), percentage body fat (%FAT), trunk-to-extremity skinfold ratio (TER), sum of eight skinfolds (SF8), and abdominal subcutaneous (ASF), visceral (AVF), and total (ATF) fat areas assessed by CT scan have been measured in adult sedentary white (n = 503) and black (n = 276) subjects participating in the HERITAGE Family Study. Association between the C-1291G polymorphism and each phenotype was tested separately in men and women of each race using ANCOVA with the effects of age as covariate in addition to the effects of BMI for TER and of FAT for AVF, ASF, and ATF. Results: The allele frequencies of the ADRA2A C-1291G polymorphism differed between races. No association was observed in white subjects, except for a moderate effect of the polymorphism accounting for less than 1% of the variance in AVF and ATF in women. In black subjects, however, the G-1291 allele was found to be associated with an increase of TER in men (3.8% of variance accounted for by the polymorphism), while in black women it was associated with a decrease in TER (2.9%) and in AVF (2.5%). Conclusion: These results suggest a role for the ADRA2A gene in determining the propensity to store fat in the abdominal area, independently of total body fatness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-94
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002


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