Minireview: Epigenetics of Obesity and Diabetes in Humans

Endocrinology. 2012 Mar;153(3):1025-30. doi: 10.1210/en.2011-1759. Epub 2012 Jan 17.


Understanding the determinants of human health and disease is overwhelmingly complex, particularly for common, late-onset, chronic disorders, such as obesity and diabetes. Elucidating the genetic and environmental factors that influence susceptibility to disruptions in energy homeostasis and metabolic regulation remain a challenge, and progress will entail the integration of multiple assessments of temporally dynamic environmental exposures in the context of each individual's genotype. To meet this challenge, researchers are increasingly exploring the epigenome, which is the malleable interface of gene-environment interactions. Epigenetic variation, whether innate or induced, contributes to variation in gene expression, the range of potential individual responses to internal and external cues, and risk for metabolic disease. Ultimately, advancement in our understanding of chronic disease susceptibility in humans will depend on refinement of exposure assessment tools and systems biology approaches to interpretation. In this review, we present recent progress in epigenetics of human obesity and diabetes, existing challenges, and the potential for new approaches to unravel the complex biology of metabolic dysregulation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus / genetics*
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Epigenomics
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Gene-Environment Interaction
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genotype
  • HapMap Project
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic
  • Obesity / genetics*