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Intrinsic Properties of Brown and White Adipocytes Have Differential Effects on Macrophage Inflammatory Responses

Mediators of Inflammation, 2017, Dowal, et al. BERG, LLC, demonstrates that white adipose tissue and macrophages are connected to the induction of low-grade inflammation, whereas brown adipose tissue and macrophages are not; introducing the possibility of exploring brown adipose tissue directed therapies for obesity-associated inflammatory diseases.

Authors: Louisa Dowal, Pooja Parameswaran, Sarah Phat, Syamala Akella, Ishita Deb Majumdar, Jyoti Ranjan, Chahan Shah, Saie Mogre, Kalyani Guntur, Khampaseuth Thapa, Stephane Gesta, Vivek K Vishnudas, Niven R. Narain and Rangaprasad Sarangarajan

Obesity contributes to low-grade inflammation associated with insulin resistance, metabolic disorders and cardiovascular disease. Adipose tissue is classified into either white adipose tissue (WAT), which is where lipids are stored, or brown adipose tissue (BAT) which is involved in maintaining body heat. Recent work has shown that WAT can turn into BAT by a process called ‘browning’, which increases heat production through thermogenesis. Thermogenesis provides protection for vital organs by maintaining the temperature necessary for biological functions to occur. Previous studies have demonstrated that macrophages, a white blood cell involved in inflammation, are associated more with WAT than BAT. The goal of this study was to determine if macrophages were induced to signal differently in the presence of either human WAT or BAT cells. WAT and macrophages cultured together induced the macrophages to express several genes associated with inflammatory processes, whereas BAT and macrophages cultured together did not induce the same inflammatory genes. Therefore, BAT has intrinsic properties that makes it less prone to inducing macrophage inflammation, and opens up an avenue to develop therapies aiming to increase BAT levels, which would lead to protection against obesity by promoting energy expenditure and reducing inflammation.

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