Mutations in the preproghrelin/ghrelin gene associated with obesity in humans

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Aug;86(8):3996-9. doi: 10.1210/jcem.86.8.7914.


Ghrelin and preproghrelin sequences were determined in 96 unrelated female subjects with severe obesity (mean body mass index (BMI) 42.3 +/- 3.4 kg/m(2)) and in 96 non-obese female controls (mean BMI 23.0 +/- 1.4 (kg/m2) of the Swedish Obese Subjects cohort. A mutation at amino acid position 51 (Arg51Gln) of the preproghrelin sequence that corresponds to the last amino acid in mature ghrelin product was identified in six (all heterozygotes) obese subjects (6.3%) but not among controls (p < 0.05). The self-reported weight at 20, 30, and 40 years of age tended to be 7.5, 4.7 and 6.4 kg lower, respectively, among obese Gln allele carriers versus obese non-carriers. In addition, a mutation at codon 72 of the preproghrelin gene (Leu72Met) was detected in 15 obese (12 hetero- and 3 homozygotes) and 12 control (all heterozygotes) subjects. This mutation outside the coding region of the mature ghrelin product tended to be associated with lower age of self-reported onset of obesity (15.6 +/- 7.9 vs. 20.5 +/- 10.5 years; p = 0.09). In addition to these two mutations in coding regions, a G274A base change in a non-coding region between exons one and two was found only in two obese individuals. The Arg51Gln amino acid substitution may alter the cleavage site of endoproteases and the length of the mature ghrelin product. The functional significance of the Leu72Met mutation and a G274A base change remains to be determined. In conclusion, the data provide evidence that a low frequency sequence variation in the ghrelin gene could play a role in the etiology of obesity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Genetic Carrier Screening
  • Ghrelin
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Morbidity
  • Mutation*
  • Obesity / genetics*
  • Obesity / mortality
  • Obesity / surgery
  • Peptide Hormones*
  • Peptides / genetics*
  • Point Mutation
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Protein Precursors / genetics*
  • Reference Values
  • Sweden / epidemiology


  • Ghrelin
  • Peptide Hormones
  • Peptides
  • Protein Precursors