TAS1R3 and UCN2 Transcript Levels in Blood Cells Are Associated With Sugary and Fatty Food Consumption in Children

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Sep;100(9):3556-64. doi: 10.1210/JC.2015-1976. Epub 2015 Jul 13.


Context: New types of dietary exposure biomarkers are needed to implement effective strategies for obesity prevention in children. Of special interest are biomarkers of consumption of food rich in simple sugars and fat because their intake has been associated with obesity development. Peripheral blood cells (PBCs) represent a promising new tool for identifying novel, transcript-based biomarkers.

Objective: This study aimed to study potential associations between the transcripts of taste receptor type 1 member 3 (TAS1R3) and urocortin II (UCN2) genes in PBCs and the frequency of sugary and fatty food consumption in children.

Design, setting, and participants: Four hundred sixty-three children from the IDEFICS cohort were selected to include a similar number of boys and girls, both normal-weight and overweight, belonging to eight European countries.

Main outcome measures: Anthropometric parameters (measured at baseline and in a subset of 193 children after 2 years), food consumption frequency and transcript levels of TAS1R3 and UCN2 genes in PBCs were measured.

Results: Children with low-frequency consumption of sugary foods displayed higher TAS1R3 expression levels with respect to those with intermediate or high frequency. In turn, children with high-frequency consumption of fatty foods showed lower UCN2 expression levels with respect to those with low or intermediate frequency. Moreover, transcripts of TAS1R3 were related with body mass index and fat-mass changes after a 2-year follow-up period, with low expression levels of this gene being related with increased fat accumulation over time.

Conclusion: The transcripts of TAS1R3 and UCN2 in PBCs may be considered potential biomarkers of consumption of sugary and fatty food, respectively, to complement data of food-intake questionnaires.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Cells / metabolism
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / genetics*
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / genetics*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urocortins / genetics*
  • Urocortins / metabolism


  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • UCN2 protein, human
  • Urocortins
  • taste receptors, type 1
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone