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Epigenetics of Obesity and Diabetes

  1. Jean-Ju Sheen,
  2. Hye J Heo,
  3. Francine H Einstein

Published Online: 15 MAY 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0024272

eLS

eLS

How to Cite

Sheen, J.-J., Heo, H. J. and Einstein, F. H. 2013. Epigenetics of Obesity and Diabetes. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, New York, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAY 2013

Abstract

The unprecedented rise in the number of people who are obese and/or diabetic poses increasing demands on healthcare worldwide. Current research is turning towards factors other than genotype that may predispose people to such diseases. The sum total of lifetime environmental exposures, the exposome, combines with deoxyribonucleic acid sequences to influence phenotypic expression. The epigenome, or the chemical processes that alter gene expression without changing the underlying genetic sequence, is at the interface of the genome and exposome. Early epigenetic influences may cause a predisposition for adult diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Limited human studies, complemented by animal studies, have demonstrated that in utero ‘programming’ may alter adult metabolic profiles. New technologies, such as layered omics, may provide tools that will allow predictions for disease susceptibility, and may be crucial for the early prevention and treatment of obesity and diabetes.

Key Concepts:

  • The exposome complements the genome in its influence of phenotypic expression.

  • The epigenome is at the interface of the genome and the exposome.

  • The hypothesis of the fetal origins of adult disease may describe early epigenetic influences for adult diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

  • Animal studies have demonstrated that in utero ‘programming’ may alter adult metabolic profiles.

  • Layered omic technologies may be the tool that will allow predictions for disease susceptibility, which will be crucial to early prevention/treatment for disease epidemics such as diabetes and obesity.

Keywords:

  • diabetes;
  • epigenetics;
  • exposome;
  • obesity;
  • omic technologies;
  • in utero programming