TCF7L2 genetic variants modulate the effect of dietary fat intake on changes in body composition during a weight-loss intervention

Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Nov;96(5):1129-36. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.038125. Epub 2012 Oct 3.


Background: TCF7L2 gene variants have been associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes and higher adiposity. Observational studies and short-term trials have suggested that macronutrients may modify these effects. However, to our knowledge, this has yet to be verified in long-term interventions.

Objective: In a long-term intervention setting, we investigated the effects of TCF7L2 polymorphisms rs7903146 and rs12255372 and dietary total fat on changes in body composition and subsequent glycemic control.

Design: Data were analyzed for 591 participants in the Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies (Pounds Lost) trial, which is a 2-y weight-loss randomized clinical trial of diets that differed in macronutrient proportions. Adjusted means for changes in body composition at 6 and 24 mo were obtained for gene main effects and interactions with a low-fat diet (20% from energy) compared with a high-fat diet (40% from energy). Interactions with protein and carbohydrate intakes were also tested. Predicted changes in glycemic control from changes in adiposity were determined by genotype and diet type.

Results: Significant interactions were observed for rs12255372 TT (risk genotype) and fat intake for changes in BMI, total fat mass, and trunk fat mass (all P/q < 0.05) at 6 mo, with nonsignificant larger decreases for TT carriers on a low-fat diet. No significant associations were observed at 24 mo or for other macronutrients. Changes in body composition for TT carriers predicted reductions in plasma glucose and insulin only on the low-fat diet.

Conclusions: Individuals with the TCF7L2 rs12255372 risk genotype may reduce body adiposity by consuming a diet lower in total fat. These reductions may induce better glycemic control for such individuals predisposed to type 2 diabetes. The Pounds Lost trial was registered at as NCT00072995.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adiposity / genetics*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Composition / genetics
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / genetics
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Overweight / enzymology
  • Overweight / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Transcription Factor 7-Like 2 Protein / genetics*
  • Transcription Factor 7-Like 2 Protein / metabolism
  • Weight Loss / genetics
  • Weight Loss / physiology
  • Weight Reduction Programs*


  • Dietary Fats
  • TCF7L2 protein, human
  • Transcription Factor 7-Like 2 Protein
  • DNA

Associated data