Signaling pathways in obesity: mechanisms and therapeutic interventions

Signal Transduct Target Ther. 2022 Aug 28;7(1):298. doi: 10.1038/s41392-022-01149-x.


Obesity is a complex, chronic disease and global public health challenge. Characterized by excessive fat accumulation in the body, obesity sharply increases the risk of several diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and is linked to lower life expectancy. Although lifestyle intervention (diet and exercise) has remarkable effects on weight management, achieving long-term success at weight loss is extremely challenging, and the prevalence of obesity continues to rise worldwide. Over the past decades, the pathophysiology of obesity has been extensively investigated, and an increasing number of signal transduction pathways have been implicated in obesity, making it possible to fight obesity in a more effective and precise way. In this review, we summarize recent advances in the pathogenesis of obesity from both experimental and clinical studies, focusing on signaling pathways and their roles in the regulation of food intake, glucose homeostasis, adipogenesis, thermogenesis, and chronic inflammation. We also discuss the current anti-obesity drugs, as well as weight loss compounds in clinical trials, that target these signals. The evolving knowledge of signaling transduction may shed light on the future direction of obesity research, as we move into a new era of precision medicine.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2*
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Obesity
  • Signal Transduction
  • Weight Loss