Myeloid-specific deletion of thrombospondin 1 protects against inflammation and insulin resistance in long-term diet-induced obese male mice

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2018 Dec 1;315(6):E1194-E1203. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00273.2018. Epub 2018 Oct 23.


Thrombospondin 1 (TSP1) is a multifunctional matricellular protein. Recent studies demonstrate that TSP1 is highly expressed in adipose tissue (AT) and positively associated with AT inflammation and insulin resistance (IR). In this study, the contribution of different cellular sources of TSP1 to obesity-induced metabolic complications is determined by using mice with either adipocyte or myeloid/macrophage-specific deletion of TSP1 in a diet-induced obese model. The results demonstrated that neither adipocyte nor myeloid/macrophage-specific deletion of TSP1 affected the development of long-term high-fat diet-induced obesity. Adipocyte-specific deletion of TSP1 did not protect mice from obesity-induced inflammation and IR. On the contrary, obese mice with myeloid/macrophage loss of TSP1 had reduced macrophage accumulation in AT, which was accompanied with reduced inflammation and improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity compared with obese control mice. Reduced macrophage-derived-TGF-β1 signaling and adipose tissue fibrosis were also observed in long-term high-fat-fed mice with myeloid/macrophage-specific TSP1 deletion. Moreover, in vitro experiments demonstrated an autocrine effect of TSP1-mediated TGF-β activation in macrophages in obesity. Collectively this study highlights the critical contribution of myeloid/macrophage-derived TSP1 to obesity-associated chronic inflammation and IR, which may serve as a new therapeutic target for metabolic disease.

Keywords: TSP1; inflammation; insulin resistance; macrophage; obesity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Insulin Resistance / genetics*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Myeloid Cells / metabolism*
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Thrombospondin 1 / genetics
  • Thrombospondin 1 / metabolism*


  • Thrombospondin 1
  • thrombospondin-1, mouse