Weight loss has become a very profitable billion-dollar industry. However, we can instead invest in ourselves and apply lifehacks to meet the same goals.
Understanding your UCP2 variants can give you a head start in understanding your weight loss and what might work best for you.
What does the UCP2 gene do?
Turning up the heat on your metabolism is the job of UCP2. The UCP2 gene codes for an uncoupling protein that works in the mitochondria (energy powerhouse) of our cells, producing heat through the uncoupling of the protons.
UCP2 is found in various tissues throughout the body, including white and brown fat cells, muscle, liver, kidney, heart, liver, lungs, and more.[ref]
In addition to producing heat from the proton gradient in the mitochondria, UCP2 also mitigates the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Thus, it plays a role in energy production, metabolism, and inflammation.
UCP2 genetic variants:
Check your genetic data for rs659366 (23andMe v4, v5; AncestryDNA):
- C/C: typical
- C/T: increased risk of higher BMI, obesity, higher coffee consumption correlated with lower weight
- T/T: increased risk of higher BMI, obesity T2D, higher coffee consumption correlated with lower weight[ref][ref][ref][ref]
Members: Your genotype for rs659366 is —.
Check your genetic data for rs660339 (23andMe v4 only):
- G/G: typical
- A/G: higher risk of obesity, increased BMI, waist circumference
- G/G: higher risk of obesity, increased BMI, waist circumference[ref][ref] longer lifespan[ref]
Members: Your genotype for rs660339 is —.
Light: One study in Bali found that the UCP2 genetic variant only contributed to an increased risk of obesity in urban people (compared to rural).[ref] Some environmental differences between urban environments and rural would include the presence of more light at night and a greater likelihood of staying up later, as well as a difference in the types of food eaten.
Related Article: Color TV has made us fat: melatonin, genetics, and light at night
Melatonin: The reason that I bring up light at night as an urban vs. rural environmental change is the impact of melatonin on UCP2. Basically, melatonin upregulates UCP2, and it also acts within the cell to reduce excess ROS.[ref] One way to increase the body’s production of melatonin is to block blue light in the evening with blue-blocking glasses. It can increase melatonin production by 50% within two weeks.
Related Article: Blue-blocking Glasses: Why? Which ones?
Resveratrol: A high-fat diet, red wine, and resveratrol increase UCP2 expression in muscle tissue (rat study). Grape juice increased UCP2 expression in adipose (fat) tissue.[ref]
Related Article: Changing Your Circadian Gene Expression with Polyphenols
Coffee: The research on coffee consumption showed that people with the UCP2 variant had less body fat with more coffee. It was independent of caffeine intake.[ref]
Is caution warranted?
Overall, I’m not convinced that trying to increase UCP2 is a good idea to do for the long term. It seems to be a balancing act between reactive oxygen species, inflammation, and energy balance. Plus, UCP2 is upregulated in cancer.[ref]
Related Articles and Genes:
Genetic Weight Loss Report
This DIY genetics report shows you how your genetic raw data for weight-related genes are linked to your weight. We are all different, and a one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss does not work for everyone.
Growing up ‘big-boned’: MC4R gene and obesity
There are several key players in our body’s regulation of hunger, satiety, and energy expenditure. Two pivotal hormones involved in our desire to eat are leptin and ghrelin. Within that leptin pathway, another key regulator of our body weight is MC4R.
Turning up the internal heat for weight loss- UCP1 genetic variants
The dream for overweight people: just turn up the internal heat and naturally burn off the extra fat. It turns out that genetically some people do have more active ‘internal heat’, and they actually are burning off more energy all the time.
Coffee: Is it right for your genes?
Wondering how your genes influence your reaction to coffee? Find out if you will benefit from drinking coffee and how this interacts with your genes. (Member’s article)
Baturin, A. K., et al. “[The study of the association of polymorphism rs659366 gene UCP2 c obesity and type 2 diabetes among residents of the Moscow Region].” Voprosy Pitaniia, vol. 84, no. 1, 2015, pp. 44–49.
“Burning More Fat With Cold.” Ben Greenfield Fitness – Diet, Fat Loss and Performance Advice, 17 Sept. 2012, https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/article/fat-loss-articles/burning-more-fat-with-cold/.
Dalgaard, Louise T. “Genetic Variance in Uncoupling Protein 2 in Relation to Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, and Related Metabolic Traits: Focus on the Functional −866G>A Promoter Variant (Rs659366).” Journal of Obesity, vol. 2011, 2011, p. 340241. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1155/2011/340241.
de Souza Rocha, Gabrielle, et al. “Effects of Resveratrol, Grape Juice or Red Wine Consumption Irisin Levels and Fibronectin Type III Domain Containing Protein 5 and Uncoupoling Protein Gene Expression Modulation in Rats.” Clinical Nutrition Experimental, vol. 5, Feb. 2016, pp. 1–5. ScienceDirect, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yclnex.2016.02.001.
Martinez-Hervas, Sergio, et al. “Polymorphisms of the UCP2 Gene Are Associated with Body Fat Distribution and Risk of Abdominal Obesity in Spanish Population.” European Journal of Clinical Investigation, vol. 42, no. 2, Feb. 2012, pp. 171–78. PubMed, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2362.2011.02570.x.
—. “Polymorphisms of the UCP2 Gene Are Associated with Body Fat Distribution and Risk of Abdominal Obesity in Spanish Population.” European Journal of Clinical Investigation, vol. 42, no. 2, Feb. 2012, pp. 171–78. PubMed, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2362.2011.02570.x.
Muhammad, Harry Freitag Luglio, et al. “The Interaction between Coffee: Caffeine Consumption, UCP2 Gene Variation, and Adiposity in Adults-A Cross-Sectional Study.” Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, vol. 2019, 2019, p. 9606054. PubMed, https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/9606054.
—. “The Interaction between Coffee: Caffeine Consumption, UCP2 Gene Variation, and Adiposity in Adults-A Cross-Sectional Study.” Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, vol. 2019, 2019, p. 9606054. PubMed, https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/9606054.
Oktavianthi, Sukma, et al. “Uncoupling Protein 2 Gene Polymorphisms Are Associated with Obesity.” Cardiovascular Diabetology, vol. 11, Apr. 2012, p. 41. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2840-11-41.
Pan, Pan, et al. “Melatonin Balance the Autophagy and Apoptosis by Regulating UCP2 in the LPS-Induced Cardiomyopathy.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), vol. 23, no. 3, Mar. 2018, p. E675. PubMed, https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules23030675.
Rose, Giuseppina, et al. “Further Support to the Uncoupling-to-Survive Theory: The Genetic Variation of Human UCP Genes Is Associated with Longevity.” PLOS ONE, vol. 6, no. 12, Dec. 2011, p. e29650. PLoS Journals, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0029650.
Salopuro, Titta, et al. “Variation in the UCP2 and UCP3 Genes Associates with Abdominal Obesity and Serum Lipids: The Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study.” BMC Medical Genetics, vol. 10, Sept. 2009, p. 94. PubMed, https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2350-10-94.
—. “Variation in the UCP2 and UCP3 Genes Associates with Abdominal Obesity and Serum Lipids: The Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study.” BMC Medical Genetics, vol. 10, Sept. 2009, p. 94. PubMed, https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2350-10-94.
Souza, Bianca Marmontel de, et al. “The Role of Uncoupling Protein 2 (UCP2) on the Development of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Its Chronic Complications.” Arquivos Brasileiros de Endocrinologia & Metabologia, vol. 55, June 2011, pp. 239–48. SciELO, https://doi.org/10.1590/S0004-27302011000400001.
Sreedhar, Annapoorna, et al. “UCP2 Overexpression Redirects Glucose into Anabolic Metabolic Pathways.” Proteomics, vol. 19, no. 4, Feb. 2019, p. e1800353. PubMed, https://doi.org/10.1002/pmic.201800353.
Debbie Moon is the founder of Genetic Lifehacks. Fascinated by the connections between genes, diet, and health, her goal is to help you understand how to apply genetics to your diet and lifestyle decisions. Debbie has a BS in engineering and also an MSc in biological sciences from Clemson University. Debbie combines an engineering mindset with a biological systems approach to help you understand how genetic differences impact your optimal health.