Worldwide obesity is a growing health problem, associated with increased risk of chronic disease. Understanding the molecular basis of adipogenesis and fat cell development in obesity is essential to identify new biomarkers and therapeutic targets for the development of anti-obesity drugs. microRNAs (miRNAs) appear to play regulatory roles in many biological processes associated with obesity, including adipocyte differentiation, insulin action and fat metabolism. Recent studies show miRNAs are dysregulated in obese adipose tissue. During adipogenesis miRNAs can accelerate or inhibit adipocyte differentiation and hence regulate fat cell development. In addition miRNAs may regulate adipogenic lineage commitment in multipotent stem cells and hence govern fat cell numbers. Recent findings suggest miR-519d may be associated with human obesity, but larger case-control studies are needed. Few miRNA targets have been experimentally validated in adipocytes but interestingly both miR-27 and miR-519d target PPAR family members, which are well established regulators of fat cell development. In this review recent advances in our understanding of the role of miRNAs in fat cell development and obesity are discussed. The potential of miRNA based therapeutics targeting obesity is highlighted as well as recommendations for future research which could lead to a breakthrough in the treatment of obesity.
Keywords: Adipocytes, adipogenesis, biomarkers, microRNAs, miR-27, miR-519d, obesity, chronic diseases, therapeutic targets, adipogenic differentiation, adipocyte biology, biogenesis, inflammatory cytokines, anti-obesity treatments, apoptosis
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