Research highlight

The immunology of obesity

Nature Medicine

July 27, 2009

The potential mechanism by which chronic, mild inflammation of fat tissue in obese patients promotes the onset of diabetes, is reported in a series of studies published online in this week's Nature Medicine.

In the first three studies, Satoshi Nishimura, Michael Dosch, Diane Mathis and their colleagues independently found that the presence of different populations of T cells is associated with insulin resistance as well as other metabolic disturbances seen in obese mice. In the fourth paper, Guo-Ping Shi and his colleagues established that mast cells ― immune cells commonly involved in allergic responses ― are similarly involved in obesity-related inflammatory responses.

Crucially, the four studies present evidence that targeting each of these different populations of immune cells reversed or prevented the metabolic dysfunction of the obese mice. These results raise the possibility of eventually treating metabolic disease with immunotherapy.

doi: 10.1038/nm.1964

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