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ARS Home » Plains Area » Grand Forks, North Dakota » Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center » Healthy Body Weight Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #297491

Title: Epigenetics in adipose tissue, obesity, weight loss and diabetes

item MARTINEZ, J - University Of Navarra
item MILAGRO, FERMIN - University Of Navarra
item Larson, Kate
item SCHALINSKE, KEVIN - Iowa State University

Submitted to: Advances in Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/24/2013
Publication Date: 1/1/2014
Publication URL:
Citation: Martinez, J.A., Milagro, F.I., Claycombe, K.J., Schalinske, K.L. 2014. Epigenetics in adipose tissue, obesity, weight loss and diabetes. Advances in Nutrition. 5:71-81.

Interpretive Summary: Obesity is linked to elevated chronic inflammation and increased incidence of type 2 diabetes (T2D). Alterations in the fetal growth environment such as that provided by different types of maternal diets play a major role in modifying offspring fat tissue enlargement and susceptibility to T2D. The effects of maternal diets on offspring susceptibility to obesity and T2D are mediated by in-utero epigenetic programming of metabolically important organs such as adipose tissue. It is not yet clear how maternal age, maternal diets, and tissue and cell type interact to influence offspring obesity outcome. This review discusses how various environmental factors including maternal diets alter offspring metabolic pathways to modify epigenetic programming process and the risk for T2D development.

Technical Abstract: Given the role that the diet and other environmental factors play in the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes, the implication of different epigenetic processes is being investigated. Although it is well known that the environmental factors can cause cell type-dependent epigenetic changes, including DNA methylation, histone tail modifications and chromatin remodeling, the regulation of these processes, the magnitude of the changes and the cell types in which they occur, the individuals more predisposed, and the stages of life more crucial remain to be elucidated. There is evidence that obese and diabetic people have a pattern of epigenetic marks different from non-obese or nondiabetic individuals. The main long-term goals in this field are the identification of epigenetic marks that could be used as early predictors of metabolic risk, and the development of drugs or diet-related treatments able to delay these epigenetic changes and even reverse them. But not only weight gain and insulin resistance/diabetes are influenced by epigenetic factors; different epigenetic biomarkers have also been identified as early predictors of weight loss and the maintenance of body weight after weight loss. The characterization of all the factors that are able to modify the epigenetic marks and the determination of their real importance is hindered by the following factors: the magnitude of change produced by dietary and environmental factors is small and cumulative; there are great differences among cell types; and there are many factors involved, including age, with multiple interactions between them.