The Epigenomic Analysis of Human Obesity.

Christopher G Bell,

Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), August 28, 2017

Analysis of the epigenome-the chemical modifications and packaging of the genome that can influence or indicate its activity-enables molecular insight into cell type-specific machinery. It can, therefore, reveal the pathophysiological mechanisms at work in disease. Detected changes can also represent physiological responses to adverse environmental exposures, thus enabling the epigenetic mark of DNA methylation to act as an epidemiological biomarker, even in surrogate tissue. This makes epigenomic analysis an attractive prospect to further understand the pathobiology and epidemiological aspects of obesity. Furthermore, integrating epigenomic data with known obesity-associated common genetic variation can aid in deciphering their molecular mechanisms. This review primarily examines epidemiological or population-based studies of epigenetic modifications in relation to adiposity traits, as opposed to animal or cell models. It discusses recent work exploring the epigenome with respect to human obesity, which to date has predominately consisted of array-based studies of DNA methylation in peripheral blood. It is of note that highly replicated BMI DNA methylation associations are not causal, but strongly driven by coassociations for more precisely measured intertwined outcomes and factors, such as hyperlipidemia, hyperglycemia, and inflammation. Finally, the potential for the future exploration of the epigenome in obesity and related disorders is considered.

© 2017 The Obesity Society.

Pubmed Link: 28845613

DOI: 10.1002/oby.21909