Obesity Increases Mortality and Modulates the Lung Metabolome during Pandemic H1N1 Influenza Virus Infection in Mice

J Immunol. 2015 May 15;194(10):4846-59. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1402295. Epub 2015 Apr 10.


Obese individuals are at greater risk for hospitalization and death from infection with the 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza virus (pH1N1). In this study, diet-induced and genetic-induced obese mouse models were used to uncover potential mechanisms by which obesity increases pH1N1 severity. High-fat diet-induced and genetic-induced obese mice exhibited greater pH1N1 mortality, lung inflammatory responses, and excess lung damage despite similar levels of viral burden compared with lean control mice. Furthermore, obese mice had fewer bronchoalveolar macrophages and regulatory T cells during infection. Obesity is inherently a metabolic disease, and metabolic profiling has found widespread usage in metabolic and infectious disease models for identifying biomarkers and enhancing understanding of complex mechanisms of disease. To further characterize the consequences of obesity on pH1N1 infection responses, we performed global liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry metabolic profiling of lung tissue and urine. A number of metabolites were perturbed by obesity both prior to and during infection. Uncovered metabolic signatures were used to identify changes in metabolic pathways that were differentially altered in the lungs of obese mice such as fatty acid, phospholipid, and nucleotide metabolism. Taken together, obesity induces distinct alterations in the lung metabolome, perhaps contributing to aberrant pH1N1 immune responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype
  • Lung / metabolism*
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Metabolome
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Obese
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Orthomyxoviridae Infections / metabolism*
  • Orthomyxoviridae Infections / pathology*