Ciliary dysfunction and obesity


Dr Mei Zhen, Mount Sinai Hospital, Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, 600 University Avenue, Room 880, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 1X5. Tel.: +1 416 586 1592; fax: +1 416 586 8588; e-mail:


Mok CA, Héon E, Zhen M. Ciliary dysfunction and obesity.

Obesity associates with increased health risks such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The steady rise in the obese population worldwide poses an increasing burden on health systems. Genetic factors contribute to the development of obesity, and the elucidation of their physiological functions helps to understand the cause, and improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment for this disorder. Primary cilia are evolutionarily conserved organelles whose dysfunctions lead to human disorders now defined as ciliopathies. Human ciliopathies present pleiotropic and overlapping phenotypes that often include retinal degeneration, cystic renal anomalies and obesity. Increasing evidence implicates an intriguing involvement of cilia in lipid/energy homeostasis. Here we discuss recent studies in support of the key roles of ciliary genes in the development and pathology of obesity in various animal models. Genes affecting ciliary development and function may pose promising candidate underlying genetic factors that contribute to the development of common obesity.