Obesity: a neuroimmunometabolic perspective

Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2020 Jan;16(1):30-43. doi: 10.1038/s41574-019-0283-6. Epub 2019 Nov 27.


Neuroimmunology and immunometabolism are burgeoning topics of study, but the intersection of these two fields is scarcely considered. This interplay is particularly prevalent within adipose tissue, where immune cells and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) have an important role in metabolic homeostasis and pathology, namely in obesity. In the present Review, we first outline the established reciprocal adipose-SNS relationship comprising the neuroendocrine loop facilitated primarily by adipose tissue-derived leptin and SNS-derived noradrenaline. Next, we review the extensive crosstalk between adipocytes and resident innate immune cells as well as the changes that occur in these secretory and signalling pathways in obesity. Finally, we discuss the effect of SNS adrenergic signalling in immune cells and conclude with exciting new research demonstrating an immutable role for SNS-resident macrophages in modulating SNS-adipose crosstalk. We posit that the latter point constitutes the existence of a new field - neuroimmunometabolism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / immunology*
  • Adipocytes / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Neuroimmunomodulation / physiology*
  • Obesity / immunology*
  • Obesity / metabolism*