Genetic disorders of adipose tissue development, differentiation, and death

Annu Rev Genomics Hum Genet. 2006;7:175-99. doi: 10.1146/annurev.genom.7.080505.115715.


Lack of adipose tissue, either complete or partial, is the hallmark of disorders known as lipodystrophies. Patients with lipodystrophies suffer from metabolic complications similar to those associated with obesity, including insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, hypertriglyceridemia, and hepatic steatosis. The loss of body fat in inherited lipodystrophies can be caused by defects in the development and/or differentiation of adipose tissue as a consequence of mutations in a number of genes, including PPARG (encoding a nuclear hormone receptor), AGPAT2 (encoding an enzyme involved in the biosynthesis of triglyceride and phospholipids), AKT2 (encoding a protein involved in insulin signal transduction), and BSCL2 (encoding seipin, whose role in the adipocyte biology remains unclear). The loss of body fat can also be caused by the premature death of adipocytes due to mutations in lamin A/C, nuclear lamina proteins, and ZMPSTE24, which modifies the prelamin A post-translationally. In this review, we focus on the molecular basis of inherited lipodystrophies as they relate to adipocyte biology and their associated phenotypic manifestations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / growth & development
  • Adipose Tissue / pathology*
  • Cell Death / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism Disorders / genetics
  • Lipodystrophy / genetics