Uncoupling protein 3 (UCP-3) uncouples oxidative metabolism from ATP synthesis, resulting in the production of heat instead of energy storage. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in UCP-3 might result in a reduced function or expression of UCP-3 and therefore lead to an increased capacity to store energy as fat.
We conducted a population-based, cross-sectional single-center study among 400 Dutch men between 40 and 80 years.
Seven SNPs in the UCP-3 gene were genotyped by means of an allele-specific real-time TaqMan PCR. Linear regression analyses were performed to examine the independent effects of these SNPs on obesity phenotypes.
We found a significant association between homozygosity for the minor allele of rs647126, rs1685356, and rs2075577 and an increase in body mass index (BMI; P=0.033, P=0.016, and P=0.019 respectively). Heterozygosity for rs1685354 was associated with a significant decrease in visceral fat mass (P=0.030).
Our results suggest that genetic variations in the UCP-3 gene are associated with an increase in BMI. A plausible mechanism by which these SNPs lead to an increase in BMI is that due to these SNPs, the UCP-3 activity might be decreased. As a result, uncoupling activity may also decrease, which will lead to an increase in body weight and BMI.