Skip to main content

Saliva test for obesity risk

Jan. 24, 2017, 8:00 AM

(iStock)
(iStock)

Saliva is a practical way to assess the risk of pre-school children for obesity, and thus may present an opportunity for prevention or early intervention, researchers at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine reported Jan. 9 in the journal BMC Genomics.

In a first-of-its-kind study, Shari Barkin, M.D., MSHS, and colleagues collected saliva samples from 92 Hispanic pre-school children. DNA in the samples was tested for methylation, an epigenetic mechanism that regulates expression of genes, including those affecting accumulation of adipocytes (fat cells) and other obesity risk factors.

Methylation at 17 DNA sites was found to be significantly associated with the mother’s body mass index (BMI), suggesting that obesity risk may be transmitted from mother to child. Inadequate nutrition or insulin resistance in the mother, for example, may cause epigenetic changes favoring obesity in the child.

If validated by further study, these “epigenetic signatures” could aid discovery of early biomarkers of childhood obesity and metabolic dysfunction, the researchers concluded.

The research was supported in part by National Institutes of Health grants HL103620, HL103622, HL103561, HD068890, HL103629 and DK092986.

Send suggestions for articles to highlight in Aliquots and any other feedback about the column to aliquots@vanderbilt.edu

Recent Stories from VUMC News and Communications Publications

Marissa Benchea has CF, and she is one of hundreds of thousands of adults not only surviving but thriving with a chronic childhood disease.

Vanderbilt Medicine

Marissa Benchea has CF, and she is one of hundreds of thousands of adults not only surviving but thriving with a chronic childhood disease.

One hundred years ago, multiple “waves” of a deadly flu swept across the world.

Vanderbilt Medicine

One hundred years ago, multiple “waves” of a deadly flu swept across the world.

A diagnosis of cancer at any age is tragic, but during the adolescent and young adult years, it’s especially complicated.

Hope

A diagnosis of cancer at any age is tragic, but during the adolescent and young adult years, it’s especially complicated.

Karen Dyer Young cares for patients and members of the Dayani Center who have or are recovering from cancer or a stem cell transplant.

Momentum

Karen Dyer Young cares for patients and members of the Dayani Center who have or are recovering from cancer or a stem cell transplant.

more