Evidence for a role of developmental genes in the origin of obesity and body fat distribution

Stephane Gesta, Matthias Blühet, Yuji Yamamoto, Andrew W. Norris, Janin Berndt, Susan Kralisch, Jeremie Boucher, Choy Lewis, C. Ronald Kahn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

299 Scopus citations


Obesity, especially central obesity, is a hereditable trait associated with a high risk for development of diabetes and metabolic disorders. Combined gene expression analysis of adipocyte- and preadipocyte-containing fractions from intraabdominal and subcutaneous adipose tissue of mice revealed coordinated depotspecific differences in expression of multiple genes involved in embryonic development and pattern specification. These differences were intrinsic and persisted during in vitro culture and differentiation. Similar depot-specific differences in expression of developmental genes were observed in human subcutaneous versus visceral adipose tissue. Furthermore, in humans, several genes exhibited changes in expression that correlated closely with body mass index and/or waist/hip ratio. Together, these data suggest that genetically programmed developmental differences in adipocytes and their precursors in different regions of the body play an important role in obesity, body fat distribution, and potential functional differences between internal and subcutaneous adipose tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6676-6681
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number17
StatePublished - Apr 25 2006


  • Adipose tissue
  • Gene expression
  • Intraabdominal
  • Subcutaneous

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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