Weight Gain, Type 2 Diabetes, and Factors that Affect Neuroendocrine Function

Obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D) occur disproportionately among African-American (AA) women. The neuroendocrine system, and in particular the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, plays a key role in the homeostasis of body weight through the regulation of energy intake and energy expenditure. Various factors such as perinatal events and chronic stressors may alter the functioning of the neuroendocrine system, resulting in weight gain and the subsequent development of T2D. Relative to U.S. white women, AA women have a higher exposure to external factors that can unfavorably alter functioning of the neuroendocrine system. The FTO gene, the gene most strongly associated with fat mass and obesity in AA as well as European ancestry populations, is highly expressed in the central nervous system and the hypothalamus, and is involved in food intake regulation.  Therefore it is possible that genetic variants of the FTO gene interact with conditions that affect functioning of the neuroendocrine system in relation to obesity and T2D.

The present project will assess whether factors that influence the neuroendocrine system are associated with weight gain and risk of T2D in the Black Women’s Health Study (BWHS). We will also assess whether genetic variants in the FTO gene modify the association between exposure to those factors and weight gain or T2D.

Investigators and Study Staff

Edward Ruiz-Narváez, Sc.D., Principal Investigator
Slone Epidemiology Center

Lynn Rosenberg, Sc.D., Co-Investigator
Slone Epidemiology Center

Julie Palmer, Sc.D., Co-Investigator
Slone Epidemiology Center

Lauren Wise, Sc.D., Co-Investigator
Slone Epidemiology Center

James Rosenzweig, M.D., Co-Investigator
Boston Medical Center

Study Details

Source of Funding:

National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities, National Institutes of Health

Study Period:

2012 to 2017