Impact of Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome on Immunity

Adv Nutr. 2016 Jan 15;7(1):66-75. doi: 10.3945/an.115.010207. Print 2016 Jan.


Obesity is associated with metabolic disturbances that cause tissue stress and dysfunction. Obese individuals are at a greater risk for chronic disease and often present with clinical parameters of metabolic syndrome (MetS), insulin resistance, and systemic markers of chronic low-grade inflammation. It has been well established that cells of the immune system play an important role in the pathogenesis of obesity- and MetS-related chronic diseases, as evidenced by leukocyte activation and dysfunction in metabolic tissues such as adipose tissue, liver, pancreas, and the vasculature. However, recent findings have highlighted the substantial impact that obesity and MetS parameters have on immunity and pathogen defense, including the disruption of lymphoid tissue integrity; alterations in leukocyte development, phenotypes, and activity; and the coordination of innate and adaptive immune responses. These changes are associated with an overall negative impact on chronic disease progression, immunity from infection, and vaccine efficacy. This review presents an overview of the impact that obesity and MetS parameters have on immune system function.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Immune System*
  • Leukocytes
  • Lymphoid Tissue
  • Metabolic Syndrome / immunology*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Obesity / immunology*
  • Obesity / physiopathology