Enhanced glycolysis and HIF-1α activation in adipose tissue macrophages sustains local and systemic interleukin-1β production in obesity

Sci Rep. 2020 Mar 27;10(1):5555. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-62272-9.


During obesity, macrophages infiltrate the visceral adipose tissue and promote inflammation that contributes to type II diabetes. Evidence suggests that the rewiring of cellular metabolism can regulate macrophage function. However, the metabolic programs that characterize adipose tissue macrophages (ATM) in obesity are poorly defined. Here, we demonstrate that ATM from obese mice exhibit metabolic profiles characterized by elevated glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation, distinct from ATM from lean mice. Increased activation of HIF-1α in ATM of obese visceral adipose tissue resulted in induction of IL-1β and genes in the glycolytic pathway. Using a hypoxia-tracer, we show that HIF-1α nuclear translocation occurred both in hypoxic and non-hypoxic ATM suggesting that both hypoxic and pseudohypoxic stimuli activate HIF-1α and its target genes in ATM during diet-induced obesity. Exposure of macrophages to the saturated fatty acid palmitate increased glycolysis and HIF-1α expression, which culminated in IL-1β induction thereby simulating pseudohypoxia. Using mice with macrophage-specific targeted deletion of HIF-1α, we demonstrate the critical role of HIF-1α-derived from macrophages in regulating ATM accumulation, and local and systemic IL-1β production, but not in modulating systemic metabolic responses. Collectively, our data identify enhanced glycolysis and HIF-1α activation as drivers of low-grade inflammation in obesity.