background and objective
Given the role of uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2) in the accumulation of fat in the hepatocytes and in the enhancement of protective mechanisms in acute ethanol intake, we hypothesised that UCP2 polymorphisms are likely to cause liver disease through their interactions with obesity and alcohol intake. To test this hypothesis, we investigated the interaction between tagging polymorphisms in the UCP2 gene (rs2306819, rs599277 and rs659366), alcohol intake and obesity traits such as BMI and waist circumference (WC) on alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT) in a large meta-analysis of data sets from three populations (n=20 242).
Design and methods
The study populations included the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 (n=4996), Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (n=1883) and LifeLines Cohort Study (n=13 363). Interactions between the polymorphisms and obesity and alcohol intake on dichotomised ALT and GGT levels were assessed using logistic regression and the likelihood ratio test.
In the meta-analysis of the three cohorts, none of the three UCP2 polymorphisms were associated with GGT or ALT levels. There was no evidence for interaction between the polymorphisms and alcohol intake on GGT and ALT levels. In contrast, the association of WC and BMI with GGT levels varied by rs659366 genotype (Pinteraction=0.03 and 0.007, respectively; adjusted for age, gender, high alcohol intake, diabetes, hypertension and serum lipid concentrations).
In conclusion, our findings in 20 242 individuals suggest that UCP2 gene polymorphisms may cause liver dysfunction through the interaction with body fat rather than alcohol intake.