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Dis Model Mech. 2012 Sep;5(5):614-20. doi: 10.1242/dmm.009845.

Obesity and psychotic disorders: uncovering common mechanisms through metabolomics.

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Systems Biology and Bioinformatics, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Espoo, FIN-02044 VTT, Finland.


Primary obesity and psychotic disorders are similar with respect to the associated changes in energy balance and co-morbidities, including metabolic syndrome. Such similarities do not necessarily demonstrate causal links, but instead suggest that specific causes of and metabolic disturbances associated with obesity play a pathogenic role in the development of co-morbid disorders, potentially even before obesity develops. Metabolomics - the systematic study of metabolites, which are small molecules generated by the process of metabolism - has been important in elucidating the pathways underlying obesity-associated co-morbidities. This review covers how recent metabolomic studies have advanced biomarker discovery and the elucidation of mechanisms underlying obesity and its co-morbidities, with a specific focus on metabolic syndrome and psychotic disorders. The importance of identifying metabolic markers of disease-associated intermediate phenotypes - traits modulated but not encoded by the DNA sequence - is emphasized. Such markers would be applicable as diagnostic tools in a personalized healthcare setting and might also open up novel therapeutic avenues.

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