The impact of weight loss on circulating cytokines in Beagle dogs

Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2015 Feb 15;163(3-4):174-82. doi: 10.1016/j.vetimm.2014.12.003. Epub 2014 Dec 20.


Chronic low-grade inflammation in obesity is characterized by an increased production of pro-inflammatory and chemotactic cytokines that are contributing to insulin resistance and related co-morbidities. Cytokines act in networks and exhibit pleiotropic effects so we investigated the circulating levels of a wide array of cytokines (pro and anti-inflammatory, chemotactic and growth factors) in a canine model of weight loss. The dogs served as their own control in order to study the impact of weight loss independent of potential confounding factors, such as history of excess weight or gender. While low-grade inflammation had been previously investigated in obese dogs by measuring changes in adipokines, acute phase proteins and key pro-inflammatory cytokines, to the best of our knowledge this is the first study to evaluate how weight loss impacts a wide array of circulating cytokines. Eighteen overweight Beagle dogs were recruited (six spayed females and 12 neutered males), and none of them were grossly obese according to the body condition score (BCS). All the dogs reached an ideal weight by the end of the program. Parameters were assessed before (baseline), at mid-point (month 3) and at end-point (month 6). Plasma GM-CSF, IL-2, Il-4, IL-6, IL-7, IL-8, IL-10, IL-15, IL-18, IFNγ, IP-10, TNFα, monocyte chemotactic protein 1 (MCP-1), keratinocyte chemokine (KC) were measured with canine multiplex immunoassays. Fat mass was assessed by dual energy X-ray absorption (DEXA). Several cytokines decreased throughout the weight loss program (p<0.01) and were correlated with the percentage of fat measured by DEXA (p<0.05): chemotactic (MCP-1), growth factors (GM-CSF, IL-7 and IL-2), and pro-inflammatory (KC and IL-18). We could not show trends for several cytokines, possibly because their level may be lower than the assay sensitivity: anti-inflammatory (IL-4 and IL-10), and pro-inflammatory (IL-6 and TNFα). In conclusion, while our findings for several pro-inflammatory and chemotactic cytokines are in accordance with human and rodent studies, we may have identified additional cytokines, such as growth factors, related to obesity-induced low-grade inflammation. Considering the weight loss was enabled by an adjusted diet, the role of this association of cytokines in insulin resistance and related co-morbidities needs to be clarified. Our results could help better understand the cytokine biology in dogs, and as such are relevant for further elucidating the relationship between immune function and metabolism/nutrition.

Keywords: IL-18; IL-7; Inflammation; MCP-1; Obesity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Dogs / immunology
  • Dogs / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / immunology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Male
  • Weight Loss / physiology*


  • Cytokines