Obesity activates a complex systemic immune response that includes the recruitment of macrophages and other immune cells to key metabolic tissues. Current models postulate that obesity and excess lipids classically activate macrophages, polarizing them toward an M1 (inflammatory) state. Little is known about noninflammatory functions of adipose tissue macrophages (ATMs). Here, we show that the expansion of adipose tissue (AT) across models of obesity induces a program of lysosome biogenesis in ATMs and is associated with lipid catabolism but not a classic inflammatory phenotype. This program is induced by factors produced by AT and is tightly coupled to lipid accumulation by ATMs. Inhibition of ATM lysosome function impairs lipid metabolism and increases lipid content in ATMs and reduces whole AT lipolysis. These data argue that ATMs contribute quantitatively to the development of obesity-induced inflammation but also serve an important role in lipid trafficking independent of their inflammatory phenotype.
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