Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 4 Alpha Polymorphisms and the Metabolic Syndrome in French-Canadian Youth


Hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 alpha (HNF4α) is a transcription factor involved in the regulation of serum glucose and lipid levels. Several HNF4A gene variants have been associated with the risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus. However, no study has yet explored its association with insulin resistance and the cardiometabolic risk in children. We aimed to investigate the relationship between HNF4A genetic variants and the presence of metabolic syndrome (MetS) and metabolic parameters in a pediatric population.

Design and Methods

Our study included 1,749 French-Canadians aged 9, 13 and 16 years and evaluated 24 HNF4A polymorphisms that were previously identified by sequencing.


Analyses revealed that, after correction for multiple testing, one SNP (rs736824; P<0.022) and two haplotypes (P1 promoter haplotype rs6130608-rs2425637; P<0.032 and intronic haplotype rs736824-rs745975-rs3212183; P<0.025) were associated with the risk of MetS. Additionally, a significant association was found between rs3212172 and apolipoprotein B levels (coefficient: -0.14 ± 0.05; P<0.022). These polymorphisms are located in HNF4A P1 promoter or in intronic regions.


Our study demonstrates that HNF4α genetic variants are associated with the MetS and metabolic parameters in French Canadian children and adolescents. This study, the first exploring the relation between HNF4A genetic variants and MetS and metabolic variables in a pediatric cohort, suggests that HNF4α could represent an early marker for the risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus.