A new report in the December issue of Cell Metabolism shows how a mutant gene allows those with it to clear fat from their bodies more quickly and easily. No correlation has yet been made between presence of the mutation and low rates of heart disease or other health benefits. The research is important as it is one of a few genome-wide association studies that have been successful in explaining the roots of human disease and traits. Also, it shows that issues of heart disease are more complicated that raising HDL levels and lowering bad LDL cholesterol levels.
In the study, researchers identified two families with high HDL and low LDL levels and looked to see which participants carried one of the genes that GWAS suggested was a lipid metabolism gene. One gene that turned up was GALNT2. Those participants with a specific mutation of the gene were able to clear triglycerides more easily after drinking pure cream than those without the mutation on the gene. Researchers found that the mutation of the gene kept the associated enzyme from doing its job of inhibiting tricglyceride breakdown. With the mutation, triglycerides are cleared away much faster.