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Mitochondrial genetic haplogroups and incident obesity: a longitudinal cohort study



A small number of case–control studies have suggested that mitochondrial haplogroups could be associated with obesity. We examined whether obesity risk was influenced by mitochondrial haplogroup in a large North American cohort across an 8-year period. We conducted a longitudinal cohort study including individuals from the Osteoarthritis Initiative.


Mitochondrial haplogroups were determined by sequencing and PCR-RFLP techniques using this nomenclature: HV, JT, KU, IWX, and super HV/others. The strength of the association between mitochondrial haplogroups and incident obesity was quantified with hazard ratios (HRs), adjusted for potential confounders using a Cox’s regression analysis.


Overall, 2342 non-obese Caucasian participants (56.7% women) with a mean ± SD age of 62.0 ± 9.5 years at baseline were included. During a median follow-up of 8 years, 334 individuals ( = 14.3% of baseline population) became obese. After adjusting for nine potential confounders, the haplogroups IWX carried a significant 48% higher risk of obesity (HR = 1.48; 95% CI: 1.02–2.39) compared to the HV haplotype (the most frequent type).


Only the presence of the IWX haplogroups appears to be linked to increased obesity risk, independent of potential baseline confounders. Future cohort studies are needed to confirm these findings and to determine potential underlying mechanisms.

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The OAI is funded by the National Institute of Health. Private funding partners include Merck Research Laboratories; Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, GlaxoSmithKline; and Pfizer, Inc. Private sector funding for the OAI is managed by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. This manuscript was prepared using an OAI public use data set and does not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the OAI investigators, the NIH, or the private funding partners. Funding sources had no role in study design, data treatment, or report writing.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Correspondence to Nicola Veronese.

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