Kidney transplant recipients often experience a significant amount of weight gain in the first year post-transplantation. While demographic factors such as age, race, and sex have been associated with weight gain in this population, these factors do not explain all of the variability seen. A number of studies have suggested that genetics also plays a critical role in weight changes. Recently, alterations in the activity of the neurotransmitter dopamine have been associated with weight change, and gene expression studies in kidney transplant recipients have supported this association. The purpose of this pilot study is to first examine the feasibility and methodology, and then to examine the associations of age, race, sex, and genotype for 13 SNPs and 3 VNTRs in 9 dopaminergic pathway genes (ANKK1, DRD2, DRD3, DRD4, SLC6A3/DAT1, MAOA, MAOB, COMT, CPE) for associations with percent weight change at 12 months post-transplantation. Seventy kidney transplant recipients had demographic and clinical data collected as a part of a larger observational study. DNA was extracted from repository buffy coat samples taken at the time of transplant, and genotyped using Taqman and PCR based methods. Three SNPs were independently associated with percent weight change: ANKK1 rs1800497 (r = -0.28, p = 0.05), SLC6A3/DAT1 rs6347 (p = 0.046), and CPE rs1946816 (p = 0.028). Stepwise regression modelling confirmed the combined associations of age (p = 0.0021), DRD4 VNTR 4/5 genotype (p = 0.0074), and SLC6A3/DAT1 rs6347 CC genotype (p = 0.0009) and TT genotype (p = 0.0004) with percent weight change in a smaller sample (n = 35) of these kidney transplant recipients that had complete genotyping. These associations indicate that there may be a genetic, and an age component to weight changes post transplantation.

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Published in PLOS One , vol. 10, no. 9, article e0138885, p. 1-10.

This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication

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This work was supported by the National Institute of Nursing Resarch grant 1F31NR013812 to AS; by the National Institute of Nursing Resarch grant T32 NR009759 to YC; and by the Southern Nursing Research Society Dissertation award to AS. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

S1_Table.docx (12 kB)
S1 Table: VNTR genotyping

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