Objectives: High-fat diet (HFD) feeding in mice is characterized by accumulation of αβ T cells in adipose tissue. However, the contribution of αβ T cells to obesity-induced inflammation of skeletal muscle, a major organ of glucose uptake, is unknown. This study was undertaken to evaluate the effect of αβ T cells on insulin sensitivity and inflammatory state of skeletal muscle and adipose tissue in obesity. Furthermore, we investigated whether CD4+IFNγ+ (TH1) cells are involved in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue metabolic dysfunction that accompanies obesity.
Methods: Mice lacking αβ T cells (T cell receptor beta chain-deficient [TCRb-/-] mice) were fed HFD for 12 weeks. Obesity-induced skeletal muscle and adipose tissue inflammation was assessed by flow cytometry and quantitative RT-PCR. To investigate the effect of TH1 cells on skeletal muscle and adipose tissue inflammation and metabolic functions, we injected 5×10(5) TH1 cells or PBS weekly over 12 weeks into HFD-fed TCRb-/- mice. We also cultured C2C12 myofibers and 3T3-L1 adipocytes with TH1-conditioned medium.
Results: We showed that similar to adipose tissue, skeletal muscle of obese mice have higher αβ T cell content, including TH1 cells. TCRb-/- mice were protected against obesity-induced hyperglycemia and insulin resistance. We also demonstrated suppressed macrophage infiltration and reduced inflammatory cytokine expression in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue of TCRb-/- mice on HFD compared to wild-type obese controls. Adoptive transfer of TH1 cells into HFD-fed TCRb-/- mice resulted in increased skeletal muscle and adipose tissue inflammation and impaired glucose metabolism. TH1 cells directly impaired functions of C2C12 myotubes and 3T3-L1 adipocytes in vitro.
Conclusions: We conclude that reduced adipose tissue and skeletal muscle inflammation in obese TCRb-/- mice is partially attributable to the absence of TH1 cells. Our results suggest an important role of TH1 cells in regulating inflammation and insulin resistance in obesity.
Keywords: Inflammation; Obesity; Skeletal muscle; T cells.
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