PPARγ Deficiency Suppresses the Release of IL-1β and IL-1α in Macrophages via a Type 1 IFN-Dependent Mechanism

J Immunol. 2018 Oct 1;201(7):2054-2069. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1800224. Epub 2018 Aug 24.


Obesity and diabetes modulate macrophage activation, often leading to prolonged inflammation and dysfunctional tissue repair. Increasing evidence suggests that the NLRP3 inflammasome plays an important role in obesity-associated inflammation. We have previously shown that activation of the lipotoxic inflammasome by excess fatty acids in macrophages occurs via a lysosome-dependent pathway. However, the mechanisms that link cellular lipid metabolism to altered inflammation remain poorly understood. PPARγ is a nuclear receptor transcription factor expressed by macrophages that is known to alter lipid handling, mitochondrial function, and inflammatory cytokine expression. To undercover novel links between metabolic signaling and lipotoxic inflammasome activation, we investigated mouse primary macrophages deficient in PPARγ. Contrary to our expectation, PPARγ knockout (KO) macrophages released significantly less IL-1β and IL-1α in response to lipotoxic stimulation. The suppression occurred at the transcriptional level and was apparent for multiple activators of the NLRP3 inflammasome. RNA sequencing revealed upregulation of IFN-β in activated PPARγKO macrophages, and this was confirmed at the protein level. A blocking Ab against the type 1 IFNR restored the release of IL-1β to wild type levels in PPARγKO cells, confirming the mechanistic link between these events. Conversely, PPARγ activation with rosiglitazone selectively suppressed IFN-β expression in activated macrophages. Loss of PPARγ also resulted in diminished expression of genes involved in sterol biosynthesis, a pathway known to influence IFN production. Together, these findings demonstrate a cross-talk pathway that influences the interplay between metabolism and inflammation in macrophages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Inflammasomes / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Interferon Type I / metabolism
  • Interleukin-1alpha / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-1beta / metabolism*
  • Macrophage Activation
  • Macrophages / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein / metabolism
  • Obesity / immunology*
  • PPAR gamma / genetics*
  • Rosiglitazone / pharmacology
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA


  • Inflammasomes
  • Interferon Type I
  • Interleukin-1alpha
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein
  • PPAR gamma
  • Rosiglitazone