Background: Domestic chickens are a valuable yet underutilized set of model organisms for studies relevant to human obesity and adipose metabolism. Chickens and humans share similarities in adipose tissue lipid metabolism, and the in ovo development of the chick enables studies of adipose development that are difficult to perform in other organisms. Transcriptomic and metabolomic studies have begun to characterize adipose metabolism in this model organism and provide important insight into mechanisms that control adipose deposition and of leanness.
Methods: Recent studies that have used transcriptomics and metabolomics to understand mechanisms that control fat mass in chickens are reviewed.
Results: Genetically distinct pairs of relatively lean and fat lines of chickens have been compared through transcriptomics and metabolomics. Despite differences in genetic background and in the means used to select for divergent fatness, some common metabolic pathways have been found to regulate adipose deposition in these studies.
Conclusion: Mechanisms that are implicated in these studies provide valuable insight into adipose tissue expansion and highlight the utility of chickens as a model for studies of obesity.