Unraveling the Genetic Master Regulator of Body Size: HSP47’s Role in Fat Storage

Researchers from Osaka University Identify HSP47 as a Key Gene Influencing Body Fat Levels

In the quest to understand the complex factors that contribute to weight gain and weight loss, scientists have long recognized that it is not as simple as “calories in, calories out.” A multitude of variables, from lifestyle choices to genetic predispositions, can influence an individual’s body weight. Now, a groundbreaking study from Osaka University in Japan has shed light on a potential master regulator of fat storage: the gene HSP47. Published in Nature Communications, this research unveils a significant breakthrough in our understanding of the genetic basis of body weight.

The Elusive Genetic Basis of Body Weight

Despite extensive research, the genetic underpinnings of body weight have remained elusive. While factors such as activity levels, food intake, and environmental conditions undoubtedly play a role, the specific genes responsible for regulating fat storage have remained a mystery. Fat tissue, in particular, is a complex entity influenced by various nutritional, hormonal, and molecular factors. However, until now, a unified genetic basis for its regulation has remained elusive.

Unveiling HSP47 as a Key Determinant of Body Fat Levels

To identify the genetic factors involved in fat deposition, the researchers at Osaka University conducted a comprehensive analysis of gene expression data from fat tissue compared to other tissue types. Their findings pointed to HSP47, a collagen-specific molecular chaperone, as a significant determinant of body fat levels. HSP47 was found to be expressed at high levels in fat tissue, and its expression increased with obesity and greater food intake. Conversely, its expression decreased with fasting, exercise, calorie restriction, bariatric surgery, and wasting syndrome. Moreover, HSP47 expression correlated closely with fat mass, body mass index, waist circumference, and hip circumference.

The Role of Insulin and Glucocorticoids in HSP47 Expression

Intriguingly, the researchers discovered that insulin, a hormone associated with fat storage or fat loss, increased HSP47 expression levels. On the other hand, glucocorticoids, which are involved in various physiological processes, decreased HSP47 expression levels. Furthermore, the study found that both humans and mice exhibited a correlation between high or low HSP47 expression and high or low body fat levels.

Implications for Metabolic Disturbances

The identification of HSP47 as a key factor influencing fat storage provides a clear genetic basis for overall body fat levels and energy use. Given the central role of HSP47 in this process, alterations in this gene could potentially lead to metabolic disturbances. This groundbreaking research opens up new avenues for understanding the complex interplay between genetics, hormones, and fat metabolism.


The discovery of HSP47 as a master regulator of fat storage represents a significant breakthrough in our understanding of body weight regulation. This study from Osaka University illuminates the intricate genetic factors that contribute to an individual’s body fat levels. By identifying HSP47 as a key player in fat deposition, researchers have provided a foundation for further investigations into the development of metabolic disturbances and potential therapeutic interventions. As we continue to unravel the complex web of factors that influence body weight, this research paves the way for a deeper understanding of obesity and related health conditions.






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