Obesity, the excess accumulation of adipose tissue, is one of the most pressing health problems in both the Western world and in developing countries. Adipose tissue growth results from two processes: the increase in number of adipocytes (hyperplasia) that develop from precursor cells, and the growth of individual fat cells (hypertrophy) due to incorporation of triglycerides. Adipogenesis, the process of fat cell development, has been extensively studied using various cell and animal models. While these studies pointed out a number of key factors involved in adipogenesis, the list of molecular components is far from complete.
The advance of high-throughput technologies has sparked many experimental studies aimed at the identification of novel molecular components regulating adipogenesis. This paper examines the results of recent studies on adipogenesis using high-throughput technologies. Specifically, it provides an overview of studies employing microarrays for gene expression profiling and studies using gel based and non-gel based proteomics as well as a chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by microarray analysis (ChIP-chip) or sequencing (ChIP-seq). Due to the maturity of the technology, the bulk of the available data was generated using microarrays. Therefore these data sets were not only reviewed but also underwent meta analysis.
The review also shows that large-scale omics technologies in conjunction with sophisticated bioinformatics analyses can provide not only a list of novel players, but also a global view on biological processes and molecular networks. Finally, developing technologies and computational challenges associated with the data analyses are highlighted, and an outlook on the questions not previously addressed is provided