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Antioxid Redox Signal. 2013 Jul 20;19(3):269-84. doi: 10.1089/ars.2012.4875. Epub 2012 Oct 5.

Mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation in obesity.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Facultat de Farmàcia, Universitat de Barcelona, Institut de Biomedicina de la Universitat de Barcelona IBUB, Barcelona, Spain.



Current lifestyles with high-energy diets and little exercise are triggering an alarming growth in obesity. Excess of adiposity is leading to severe increases in associated pathologies, such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, cancer, arthritis, asthma, and hypertension. This, together with the lack of efficient obesity drugs, is the driving force behind much research.


Traditional anti-obesity strategies focused on reducing food intake and increasing physical activity. However, recent results suggest that enhancing cellular energy expenditure may be an attractive alternative therapy.


This review evaluates recent discoveries regarding mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation (FAO) and its potential as a therapy for obesity. We focus on the still controversial beneficial effects of increased FAO in liver and muscle, recent studies on how to potentiate adipose tissue energy expenditure, and the different hypotheses involving FAO and the reactive oxygen species production in the hypothalamic control of food intake.


The present review aims to provide an overview of novel anti-obesity strategies that target mitochondrial FAO and that will definitively be of high interest in the future research to fight against obesity-related disorders.

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