Dendritic Cells Promote Macrophage Infiltration and Comprise a Substantial Proportion of Obesity-Associated Increases in CD11c+ Cells in Adipose Tissue and Liver

  1. Robert M. O’Doherty1
  1. 1Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  2. 2Department of Immunology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  3. 3Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  4. 4Center for Biologic Imaging, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  5. 5Department of Surgery, Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  1. Corresponding author: Robert M. O’Doherty, rmo1{at}pitt.edu.

Abstract

Obesity-associated increases in adipose tissue (AT) CD11c+ cells suggest that dendritic cells (DC), which are involved in the tissue recruitment and activation of macrophages, may play a role in determining AT and liver immunophenotype in obesity. This study addressed this hypothesis. With the use of flow cytometry, electron microscopy, and loss-and-gain of function approaches, the contribution of DC to the pattern of immune cell alterations and recruitment in obesity was assessed. In AT and liver there was a substantial, high-fat diet (HFD)–induced increase in DC. In AT, these increases were associated with crown-like structures, whereas in liver the increase in DC constituted an early and reversible response to diet. Notably, mice lacking DC had reduced AT and liver macrophages, whereas DC replacement in DC-null mice increased liver and AT macrophage populations. Furthermore, delivery of bone marrow–derived DC to lean wild-type mice increased AT and liver macrophage infiltration. Finally, mice lacking DC were resistant to the weight gain and metabolic abnormalities of an HFD. Together, these data demonstrate that DC are elevated in obesity, promote macrophage infiltration of AT and liver, contribute to the determination of tissue immunophenotype, and play a role in systemic metabolic responses to an HFD.

Footnotes

  • Received November 1, 2011.
  • Accepted June 6, 2012.

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