Objective: Members of the family of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are important regulators of adipogenesis. We examined the role of the BMP receptor 1A gene (BMPR1A) in the pathophysiology of human obesity.
Research design and methods: We measured BMPR1A mRNA expression in paired samples of visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue from 297 subjects and sequenced the BMPR1A in 48 nonrelated white subjects. Twenty-one representative variants including HapMap tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were then genotyped for association studies in German whites (n = 1,907). For replication analyses, we used a population of Sorbs from Germany (n = 900) and German childhood cohorts (n = 1,029 schoolchildren and 270 obese children).
Results: mRNA expression of the BMPR1A was significantly increased in both visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue of overweight and obese subjects compared with lean subjects (P < 0.05). In a case-control study, four SNPs (rs7095025, rs11202222, rs10788528, and rs7922846) were nominally associated with obesity (adjusted P < 0.05). For three SNPs (rs7095025, rs11202222, and rs10788528), the association with obesity was confirmed in the independent cohort of Sorbs (adjusted P < 0.005). Consistent with this, BMPR1A SNPs were nominally associated with obesity-related quantitative traits in nondiabetic subjects in both adult cohorts. Furthermore, homozygous carriers of the obesity risk alleles had higher BMPR1A mRNA expression in fat than noncarriers.
Conclusions: Our data suggest that genetic variation in the BMPR1A may play a role in the pathophysiology of human obesity, possibly mediated through effects on mRNA expression.