Genetic, hypothalamic and endocrine features of clinical and experimental obesity

Prog Brain Res. 1992;93:333-40; discussion 340-1. doi: 10.1016/s0079-6123(08)64583-5.


Obesity occurs in both clinical and animal forms in a variety of specific models which allow study of its underlining endocrine and mechanistic features. Among the neuroendocrine varieties of obesity, polycystic ovaries are probably the most common. The importance of the gonadal feedback system for regulation of food intake and obesity is indicated by the effects of castration in experimental animals which is a widely used mechanism for producing experimental obesity. Cushing syndrome and hypothalamic obesity are rare clinical syndromes. The current evidence suggests that there are two types of hypothalamic obesity from a mechanistic point of view--one associated with hyperphagia as a necessary and sufficient cause and a disturbance of the autonomic nervous system without hyperphagia as a second mechanism. Although genetic factors underlie most types of human obesity, there are several dymorphic forms of obesity including the Prader-Willy syndrome, Cohen's syndrome, Carpenter's syndrome, Ahlstrom's syndrome and the Bardet-Biedel syndrome. The Prader-Willi syndrome is characterized by obesity hypotonia hypogonadism and mental retardation. In animals, a dominant form of inheritance of obesity is seen in the yellow mouse. Current evidence suggests that this syndrome can be explained by reduced acetylation of MSH in the pituitary and/or hypothalamus. Several recessively inherited forms of obesity exist including the obese mouse, the diabetes mouse, fatty rat, the fat mouse, tubby mouse and the corpulent rat. In addition, there are a number of polygenic types of experimental obesity. The final mechanistic classification of obesity are those due to dietary manipulation. For both human beings and animals, a highly fat diet appears to be particularly problematic for the development of obesity.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cushing Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypogonadism / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Ovariectomy
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome / genetics
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome / physiopathology