Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

INTRODUCTION: Placental function is an important determinant of fetal growth, and fetal growth influences obesity risk in childhood and adult life. Here we investigated how FTO and MC4R gene variants linked with obesity relate to patterns of fetal growth and to placental FTO expression. METHODS: Southampton Women's Survey children (n = 1990) with measurements of fetal growth from 11 to 34 weeks gestation were genotyped for common gene variants in FTO (rs9939609, rs1421085) and MC4R (rs17782313). Linear mixed-effect models were used to analyse relations of gene variants with fetal growth. RESULTS: Fetuses with the rs9939609 A:A FTO genotype had faster biparietal diameter and head circumference growth velocities between 11 and 34 weeks gestation (by 0.012 (95% CI 0.005 to 0.019) and 0.008 (0.002-0.015) standard deviations per week, respectively) compared to fetuses with the T:T FTO genotype; abdominal circumference growth velocity did not differ between genotypes. FTO genotype was not associated with placental FTO expression, but higher placental FTO expression was independently associated with larger fetal size and higher placental ASCT2, EAAT2 and y + LAT2 amino acid transporter expression. Findings were similar for FTO rs1421085, and the MC4R gene variant was associated with the fetal growth velocity of head circumference. DISCUSSION: FTO gene variants are known to associate with obesity but this is the first time that the risk alleles and placental FTO expression have been linked with fetal growth trajectories. The lack of an association between FTO genotype and placental FTO expression adds to emerging evidence of complex biology underlying the association between FTO genotype and obesity.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





100 - 106


FTO genotype, Fetal growth trajectories, MC4R genotype, Placental FTO expression, Placental amino acid transporter expression, Alpha-Ketoglutarate-Dependent Dioxygenase FTO, Birth Weight, Cephalometry, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Fetal Development, Fetus, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Gestational Age, Humans, Infant, Newborn, Male, Obesity, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide, Pregnancy, Risk Factors, United Kingdom