Macrophage Adiponectin Expression Improves Insulin Sensitivity and Protects Against Inflammation and Atherosclerosis

  1. Yuchang Fu1
  1. 1Department of Nutrition Sciences, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama;
  2. 2Department of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, and the Ralph H. Johnson Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center, Charleston, South Carolina;
  3. 3Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Birmingham, Alabama.
  1. Corresponding author: Yuchang Fu, yfu{at}


OBJECTIVE Adiponectin is one of several important metabolically active cytokines secreted from adipose tissue. Epidemiologic studies have associated low-circulating levels of this adipokine with multiple metabolic disorders including obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. To investigate adiponectin-mediated changes in metabolism in vivo, we generated transgenic mice that specifically express the gene coding for human adiponectin in mouse macrophages using the human scavenger receptor A-I gene enhancer/promoter.

METHODS AND RESULTS Using this transgenic mouse model, we found that adiponectin expression was associated with reduced whole-animal body and fat-pad weight and an improved lipid accumulation in macrophages when these transgenic mice were fed with a high-fat diet. Moreover, these macrophage Ad-TG mice exhibit enhanced whole-body glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity with reduced proinflammatory cytokines, MCP-1 and TNF-a (both in the serum and in the metabolic active macrophage), adipose tissue, and skeletal muscle under the high-fat diet condition. Additional studies demonstrated that these macrophage adiponectin transgenic animals exhibit reduced macrophage foam cell formation in the arterial wall when these transgenic mice were crossed with an LDL receptor–deficient mouse model and were fed a high-fat diet.

CONCLUSIONS These results suggest that adiponectin expressed in macrophages can physiologically modulate metabolic activities in vivo by improving metabolism in distal tissues. The use of macrophages as carriers for adiponectin, a molecule with antidiabetes, anti-inflammatory, and antiatherogenic properties, provides a novel and unique strategy for studying the mechanisms of adiponectin-mediated alterations in body metabolism in vivo.


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    • Received September 10, 2009.
    • Accepted December 24, 2009.

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