Context: Liver fat predicts insulin resistance in humans. So far, there is not much information on genetic determinants of liver fat. Hepatic lipase is a liver-specific enzyme that regulates lipid metabolism.
Objective: First, our object was to investigate whether the functional -514C>T polymorphism of the hepatic lipase gene is associated with liver fat content and with insulin sensitivity. Second, because this polymorphism displays gene-nutrient interactions, we assessed gene-gene interactions with the Pro12Ala polymorphism of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma(2) on liver fat content and insulin sensitivity.
Design and methods: Cross-sectional data from a total of 1070 nondiabetic subjects were analyzed. Insulin sensitivity was estimated from a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test. A subgroup of 115 subjects underwent measurements of liver fat.
Results: The -514C>T polymorphism of the hepatic lipase gene was associated with higher liver fat content (P = 0.005) and lower insulin sensitivity (P = 0.02), both after adjustment for age, gender, and percentage of body fat. This was independent of serum adiponectin concentrations (P = 0.01 and 0.03). However, there was an interaction of the -514C>T polymorphism with the Pro12Ala variant on liver fat (P = 0.09) and insulin sensitivity (P = 0.01). Subjects carrying the -514C>T polymorphism had higher liver fat content and were insulin resistant only before the background of the Pro/Pro genotype of the Pro12Ala polymorphism.
Conclusions: The -514C>T polymorphism of the hepatic lipase gene is associated with higher liver fat content and lower whole-body insulin sensitivity. However, these effects are modulated by the common Pro12Ala polymorphism in peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma(2). These findings may be relevant for intervention strategies to prevent increase in liver fat content and insulin resistance.