What have rare genetic syndromes taught us about the pathophysiology of the common forms of obesity?

Mihaela Stefan, Robert D. Nicholls

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Obesity is a central feature for several congenital syndromes, including Prader-Willi, Angelman, Bardet-Biedl, Cohen, Alström, and Börjeson-Forssman-Lehmann syndromes, and Albright's hereditary osteodystrophy. Although a role for the central nervous system, including the hypothalamus-pituitary axis, has been suggested for the etiology of obesity in these syndromes, the pathophysiologic pathways are as yet not well defined, and in many cases may identify currently unknown mechanisms. Nevertheless, many of the causative genes and unusual mechanisms, including parental imprinting of genes and complex patterns of inheritance, have been identified. We review the latest advances in understanding congenital syndromes in which obesity is purely genetic, drawing on comparisons to genetic studies of obesity in the human population as well as to those in experimental and agricultural animal models. An understanding of the genetic basis for these syndromes will provide a more comprehensive picture of the mechanisms that control food intake and energy balance in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-150
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent diabetes reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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