Epigenetic regulation in obesity

Int J Obes (Lond). 2012 Jun;36(6):757-65. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2011.178. Epub 2011 Sep 13.


The availability to the DNA strand and the activity of the transcription machinery is crucial for the cell to use the information in the DNA. The epigenetic mechanisms DNA methylation, modification of histone tails, other chromatin-modifying processes and interference by small RNAs regulate the cell-type-specific DNA expression. Epigenetic marks can be more or less plastic perpetuating responses to various molecular signals and environmental stimuli, but in addition apparently stochastic epigenetic marks have been found. There is substantial evidence from animal and man demonstrating that both transient and more long-term epigenetic mechanisms have a role in the regulation of the molecular events governing adipogenesis and glucose homeostasis. Intrauterine exposure such as poor maternal nutrition has consistently been demonstrated to contribute to a particular epigenotype and thereby developmental metabolic priming of the exposed offspring in animal and man. Epigenetic modifications can be passed not only from one cell generation to the next, but metabolic disease-related epigenotypes have been proposed to also be transmitted germ-line. Future more comprehensive knowledge on epigenetic regulation will complement genome sequence data for the understanding of the complex etiology of obesity and related disorder.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Chromatin / metabolism*
  • Circadian Rhythm / genetics*
  • DNA Methylation / genetics*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / genetics*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / genetics
  • Prenatal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / genetics


  • Chromatin
  • Histones