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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Adiposis dolorosa

Other Names for this Disease
  • Dercum disease
  • Dercum's disease
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What causes adiposis dolorosa?

The exact cause of adiposis dolorosa remains unknown. Some possible causes have been suggested, although none have been confirmed. These include long-term treatment with high-dose corticosteroids; endocrine system abnormalities; and changes in fatty acid or carbohydrate metabolism. Researchers have also suggested that is could be an autoimmune disorder.[1][2]

Because this condition has rarely occurred in more than one individual in some families, it may have a genetic component. However, no specific gene known to be associated with the condition has been identified.[2][3]

It is unknown why adiposis dolorosa usually occurs in people who are overweight or obese, or why the signs and symptoms do not appear until mid-adulthood.[3]
Last updated: 11/11/2013

  1. Learning about Dercum Disease. National Human Genome Research Institute. July 2010; Accessed 5/13/2011.
  2. Louis Dubertret. Adiposis dolorosa. Orphanet. May, 2008; Accessed 11/11/2013.
  3. Adiposis dolorosa. Genetics Home Reference. July, 2012; Accessed 11/11/2013.