FTO is a relevant factor for the development of the metabolic syndrome in mice

PLoS One. 2014 Aug 21;9(8):e105349. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0105349. eCollection 2014.


The metabolic syndrome is a worldwide problem mainly caused by obesity. FTO was found to be a obesity-risk gene in humans and FTO deficiency in mice led to reduction in adipose tissue. Thus, FTO is an important factor for the development of obesity. Leptin-deficient mice are a well characterized model for analysing the metabolic syndrome. To determine the relevance of FTO for the development of the metabolic syndrome we analysed different parameters in combined homozygous deficient mice (Lep(ob/ob);Fto(-/-)). Lep(ob/ob);Fto(-/-) mice showed an improvement in analysed hallmarks of the metabolic syndrome in comparison to leptin-deficient mice wild type or heterozygous for Fto. Lep(ob/ob);Fto(-/-) mice did not develop hyperglycaemia and showed an improved glucose tolerance. Furthermore, extension of beta-cell mass was prevented in Lep(ob/ob);Fto(-/-)mice and accumulation of ectopic fat in the liver was reduced. In conclusion this study demonstrates that FTO deficiency has a protective effect not only on the development of obesity but also on the metabolic syndrome. Thus, FTO plays an important role in the development of metabolic disorders and is an interesting target for therapeutic agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Alpha-Ketoglutarate-Dependent Dioxygenase FTO
  • Animals
  • Body Weight / genetics
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fatty Liver / metabolism
  • Fatty Liver / pathology
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Hyperglycemia / genetics
  • Hyperglycemia / metabolism
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism
  • Islets of Langerhans / pathology
  • Leptin / deficiency
  • Leptin / genetics
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / genetics*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / genetics*
  • Oxo-Acid-Lyases / genetics*


  • Leptin
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • FTO protein, mouse
  • Alpha-Ketoglutarate-Dependent Dioxygenase FTO
  • Oxo-Acid-Lyases

Grants and funding

This work was supported by a grant from the BMBF (NGFN plus) and the DFG through SFB612. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.