Obesity is associated with neutrophil dysfunction and attenuation of murine acute lung injury

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2012 Jul;47(1):120-7. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2011-0334OC. Epub 2012 Mar 15.


Although obesity is implicated in numerous health complications leading to increased mortality, the relationship between obesity and outcomes for critically ill patients appears paradoxical. Recent studies have reported better outcomes and lower levels of inflammatory cytokines in obese patients with acute lung injury (ALI)/acute respiratory distress syndrome, suggesting that obesity may ameliorate the effects of this disease. We investigated the effects of obesity in leptin-resistant db/db obese and diet-induced obese mice using an inhaled LPS model of ALI. Obesity-associated effects on neutrophil chemoattractant response were examined in bone marrow neutrophils using chemotaxis and adoptive transfer; neutrophil surface levels of chemokine receptor CXCR2 were determined by flow cytometry. Airspace neutrophilia, capillary leak, and plasma IL-6 were all decreased in obese relative to lean mice in established lung injury (24 h). No difference in airspace inflammatory cytokine levels was found between obese and lean mice in both obesity models during the early phase of neutrophil recruitment (2-6 h), but early airspace neutrophilia was reduced in db/db obese mice. Neutrophils from uninjured obese mice demonstrated diminished chemotaxis to the chemokine keratinocyte cytokine compared with lean control mice, and adoptive transfer of obese mouse neutrophils into injured lean mice revealed a defect in airspace migration of these cells. Possibly contributing to this defect, neutrophil CXCR2 expression was significantly lower in obese db/db mice, and a similar but nonsignificant decrease was seen in diet-induced obese mice. ALI is attenuated in obese mice, and this blunted response is in part attributable to an obesity-associated abnormal neutrophil chemoattractant response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Acute Lung Injury / chemically induced
  • Acute Lung Injury / physiopathology*
  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Cells / metabolism
  • Bone Marrow Cells / pathology
  • Chemotaxis, Leukocyte
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Lipopolysaccharides / immunology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Obese
  • Neutrophil Infiltration
  • Neutrophils / immunology*
  • Obesity / immunology*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Receptors, Interleukin-8B / biosynthesis
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / physiopathology*


  • Interleukin-6
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Receptors, Interleukin-8B