Rapid-onset obesity with hypothalamic dysfunction, hypoventilation, and autonomic dysregulation (ROHHAD): a collaborative review of the current understanding

Ilya Khaytin*, A. Kaitlyn Victor, Sarah F. Barclay, Leslie A. Benson, Susan M. Slattery, Casey M. Rand, Kyle C. Kurek, Debra E. Weese-Mayer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: To provide an overview of the discovery, presentation, and management of Rapid-onset Obesity with Hypothalamic dysfunction, Hypoventilation, and Autonomic Dysregulation (ROHHAD). To discuss a search for causative etiology spanning multiple disciplines and continents. Methods: The literature (1965–2022) on the diagnosis, management, pathophysiology, and potential etiology of ROHHAD was methodically reviewed. The experience of several academic centers with expertise in ROHHAD is presented, along with a detailed discussion of scientific discovery in the search for a cause. Results: ROHHAD is an ultra-rare syndrome with fewer than 200 known cases. Although variations occur, the acronym ROHHAD is intended to alert physicians to the usual sequence or unfolding of the phenotypic presentation, including the full phenotype. Nearly 60 years after its first description, more is known about the pathophysiology of ROHHAD, but the etiology remains enigmatic. The search for a genetic mutation common to patients with ROHHAD has not, to date, demonstrated a disease-defining gene. Similarly, a search for the autoimmune basis of ROHHAD has not resulted in a definitive answer. This review summarizes current knowledge and potential future directions. Conclusion: ROHHAD is a poorly understood, complex, and potentially devastating disorder. The search for its cause intertwines with the search for causes of obesity and autonomic dysregulation. The care for the patient with ROHHAD necessitates collaborative international efforts to advance our knowledge and, thereby, treatment, to decrease the disease burden and eventually to stop, and/or reverse the unfolding of the phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-268
Number of pages18
JournalClinical Autonomic Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Altered control of breathing obesity syndromes
  • Autonomic nervous system dysfunction
  • Congenital central hypoventilation syndrome
  • Hypoventilation
  • Prader–Willi syndrome
  • Ventilator-dependence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Clinical Neurology


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