Melanocortin-4 receptor mutations in obesity.
ABSTRACT The current alarming spread of obesity in many parts of the world is caused by a sudden environmental shift characterized by replacement of a frugal diet with low cost, energy dense food, and little requests for physical activity during work and leisure time. Yet, not all people exposed to an obesogenic environment become obese, and individual differences in the propensity to gain weight as well as the occurrence of different obese phenotypes within the same environment indicate that the genetic heritage in this regard is significant and heterogeneous. The central melanocortin circuit has received much attention during the past decade, since mutations of genes expressing some key molecules in neurons of this system were discovered, which may cause monogenic forms of obesity in animals and humans. Within the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus the prohormone proopiomelanocortin is posttranslationally cleaved to produce the alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone, a peptide with anorexigenic effects upon activation of the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) expressed on the surface of target neurons. Studies regarding the frequency of MC4R mutations associated with human obesity have provided variable results (up to 6% of obese subjects). Various findings suggest an oligogenic and codominant mode of inheritance for MC4R deficiency, with modulation of expressivity and penetrance of the phenotype. The yield of MC4R testing in clinical diagnosis and treatment of obesity is at present undefined since the relatively low prevalence of MC4R pathogenic variants in the general population, along with the high number of sequence variants, has so far compromised the devising of systematic controlled intervention studies. Hopefully, in the future, MC4R testing will have practical implications for the development of new mechanism-based therapy of obesity as well as for the design of specific and more effective protocols, based on lifestyle intervention and current pharmacological or surgical approaches, for management of obesity in MC4R-mutated individuals.
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ABSTRACT: The growing worldwide obesity epidemic and obesity-related disorders present a huge unmet medical need for safe and effective anti-obesity medications. The discovery of leptin in 1994 was rapidly succeeded by a wave of related discoveries leading to the elaboration of a hypothalamic melanocortinergic neuronal circuit regulated by leptin and other central and peripheral signaling molecules to control energy homeostasis. The identification of specific neuronal subtypes along with their unique connections and expression products generated a rich target menu for anti-obesity drug discovery programs. Over the course of the last decade, several new chemical entities aimed at these targets have reached various stages or successfully completed the drug discovery/regulatory process only to be dropped or taken off the market. There are now in fact fewer options for anti-obesity drug therapies in late 2010 than were available in 2000. The challenge to discover safe and effective anti-obesity drugs is alive and well.Pharmaceuticals. 01/2010;
Article: Evidences on three relevant obesogenes: MC4R, FTO and PPARγ. Approaches for personalized nutrition.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Obesity is a complex disease that results from the interaction between lifestyle (dietary patterns and sedentary habits) and genetic factors. The recognition of a genetic basis for human obesity has driven to identify putative causal genes to understand the pathways that control body mass and fat deposition in humans as well as to provide personalized treatments and prevention strategies to fight against obesity. More than 120 candidate genes have been associated with obesity-related traits. Genome-wide association study has so far identified over 20 novel loci convincingly associated with adiposity. This review is specifically focused on the study of the effects of melanocortin 4 receptor, Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ and fat mass and obesity associated (FTO) gene variants and their interactions with dietary intake, physical activity or drug administration on body weight control. The advances in this field are expected to open new ways in genome-customized diets for obesity prevention and therapy following personalized approaches.Molecular Nutrition & Food Research 01/2011; 55(1):136-49. · 4.30 Impact Factor