Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior Can Modulate the Effect of the PNPLA3 Variant on Childhood NAFLD: A Case-Control Study in a Chinese Population

Shuo Wang, Jieyun Song, Xiaorui Shang, Nitesh V. Chawla, Yide Yang, Xiangrui Meng, Haijun Wang, and Jun Ma
BMC Medical Genetics
Publication Date: 
December, 2016

The patatin like phospholipase containing domain 3 gene (PNPLA3) rs738409 C > G polymorphism, one of the most important gene polymorphisms involved in hepatic steatosis, has been reported to interact with different nutrients and dietary patterns on Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), but no studies have focused on its interaction with physical activity or sedentary behavior. Therefore, this study aims at determining whether physical activity or sedentary behavior could modulate the effect of the PNPLA3 variant on childhood NAFLD.

A case-control study was conducted including 1027 Chinese children aged 7–18 years old (162 children with NAFLD and 865 children without). The anthropometric measurements, liver ultrasound examination, questionnaires and genotyping of the PNPLA3 rs738409 polymorphism were performed.

Stratified analyses showed that the proportions of NAFLD increased with the G-allele number only in children who did not have enough physical activity (physical activity < 1 h/d) (OR 3.05, 95% CI 1.82–5.12, P < 0.001), and in children with a sedentary lifestyle (sedentary behavior ≥ 2 h/d) (OR 3.41, 95% CI 1.88–6.18, P < 0.001). Significant interactions on childhood NAFLD were found between the G-allele number in the PNPLA3 rs738409 polymorphism and behaviors, including physical activity (P = 0.001), sedentary behavior (P = 0.010) and the combination of physical activity and sedentary behavior (P < 0.001).

This is the first study to report the interaction between the PNPLA3 rs738409 polymorphism and physical activity or sedentary behavior on NAFLD, providing new clues on the function of the PNPLA3 gene, which will also be useful for future risk assessment and personalized treatment of NAFLD.