COMPANION ANIMALS SYMPOSIUM: Nutrigenomics: Using gene expression and molecular biology data to understand pet obesity

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Approximately 55% of dogs and 53% of cats in the United States are considered overweight or obese. The domestication of dogs and cats and, more recently, their anthropomorphism, have drastically changed their environment and social behavior. A greater manifestation of chronic diseases is observed with pet obesity (e.g., insulin resistance, type-2 diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders). The advances in "omics" technology may provide new tools to investigate the complexity of obesity and its comorbidities. The field of nutrigenomics focuses specifically on the mechanisms by which nutrients and dietary bioactive molecules affect gene expression. The main objective of this review is to discuss factors involved in the etiology of pet obesity and demonstrate how the field of nutrigenomics has been used to better understand and characterize this disease. Currently, most of the genomics literature available on companion animal obesity has focused on adipose tissue, with fewer studies focused on other tissues (e.g., skeletal muscle, liver). Initial studies focused on the sequence and functionality of a few specific genes, such as leptin and adiponectin, and identified their association with obesity. Subsequent studies focused on gene expression levels across tissues and how they were impacted by BW status or if animals were intact, spayed, or neutered. Dietary interventions to induce obesity, promote BW loss, or alter dietary nutrient profile have also been investigated. Diets including prebiotics, green tea extract, or increased concentrations of protein have been shown to modify the expression of several genes related to glucose and lipid metabolism in adipose [e.g., uncoupling protein-2, carnitine palmitoyltransferase-1, PPARα, lipoprotein lipase (LPL), and glucose transporter 4] and skeletal muscle (e.g., PPARα and LPL) tissues. In general, the outcomes derived from these studies demonstrated that dogs and cats share similar adipokines and hormones to other species, and they are affected in a similar fashion during obesity. They also indicate that gene transcription modifications may preclude clinical signs, which may become a useful tool in the management and prevention of obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2949-2964
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Adipose tissue
  • Canine
  • Feline
  • Genomics
  • Obesity
  • Transcriptome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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