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Eur J Clin Invest. 2011 Apr;41(4):451-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2362.2010.02468.x.

Genetic, molecular and physiological insights into human obesity.

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  • 1Metabolic Research Laboratories, Institute of Metabolic Science, Addenbrooke's Hospital, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.



Obesity and its associated co-morbidities represent one of the biggest public health challenges facing the western world today. Although environmental factors have driven the recent rise in the prevalence of obesity, the heritability of body weight is high and there is evidence that genetic variation plays a major role in determining the susceptibility to weight gain.


Genetic approaches can be used to investigate the mechanisms underlying the regulation of weight and the development of obesity.


The discovery that leptin, a hormone that is secreted by adipocytes, could regulate weight through effects on food intake and energy expenditure represented a major breakthrough in our understanding of the molecular components of the systems involved in energy homeostasis.


I discuss how the identification of humans with mutations in the genes encoding leptin and its downstream targets has provided insights into the role of leptin responsive pathways in the regulation of body weight, neuroendocrine axes and immunity.

© 2011 The Author. European Journal of Clinical Investigation © 2011 Stichting European Society for Clinical Investigation Journal Foundation.

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