A new class of obesity genes encodes leukocyte adhesion receptors. Academic Article uri icon


  • Obesity is a complex disease, and multiple genes contribute to the trait. The description of five genes (ob, db, tub, Ay, and fat) responsible for distinct syndromes of spontaneous monogenic obesity in mice has advanced our knowledge of the genetics of obesity. However, many other genes involved in the expression of this disease remain to be determined. We report here the identification of an additional class of genes involved in the regulation of adipose tissue mass. These genes encode receptors mediating leukocyte adhesion. Mice deficient in intercellular adhesion molecule-1 became spontaneously obese in old age on normal mouse chow or at a young age when provided with a diet rich in fat. Mice deficient in the counterreceptor for intercellular adhesion molecule-1, the leukocyte integrin alphaMbeta2 (Mac-1), showed a similar obesity phenotype. Since all mice consumed approximately the same amount of food as controls, the leukocyte function appears to be in regulating lipid metabolism and/or energy expenditure. Our results indicate that (i) leukocytes play a role in preventing excess body fat deposition and (ii) defects in leukocyte adhesion receptors can result in obesity.

publication date

  • July 8, 1997