Obesity can trigger an inflammatory response from immune cells, which can then lead to metabolic diseases, such as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, reports an study published online this week in Nature Immunology. The findings show how the immune system can directly contribute to a common metabolic disease and highlights that targeting inflammation may be a useful therapeutic intervention.
A molecular complex inside cells, called the inflammasome, plays an important role in immunity by triggering inflammation in response to a wide variety of harmful agents ranging from bacteria to asbestos. Jenny Ting and colleagues now find that palmitate, a fatty acid common in a high fat diet, triggers activation of the inflammasome. Palmitate-triggered inflammation is also responsible for interfering with the insulin sensitivity of liver cells ― a major feature of type 2 diabetes.