Extracellular vesicles mediate the communication of adipose tissue with brain and promote cognitive impairment associated with insulin resistance

Cell Metab. 2022 Sep 6;34(9):1264-1279.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2022.08.004.


Type 2 diabetes with obesity-related insulin resistance as the main manifestation is associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment. Adipose tissue plays an important role in this process. Here, we demonstrated that adipose tissue-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) and their cargo microRNAs (miRNAs) mediate inter-organ communication between adipose tissue and the brain, which can be transferred into the brain in a membrane protein-dependent manner and enriched in neurons, especially in the hippocampus. Further investigation suggests that adipose tissue-derived EVs from high-fat diet (HFD)-fed mice or patients with diabetes induce remarkable synaptic loss and cognitive impairment. Depletion of miRNA cargo in these EVs significantly alleviates their detrimental effects on cognitive function. Collectively, these data suggest that targeting adipose tissue-derived EVs or their cargo miRNAs may provide a promising strategy for pharmaceutical interventions for cognitive impairment in diabetes.

Keywords: adipose tissue; cognitive impairment; extracellular vesicles; insulin resistance; miRNA; obesity; type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Animals
  • Cognitive Dysfunction*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / complications
  • Extracellular Vesicles*
  • Hippocampus
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Mice
  • MicroRNAs* / genetics


  • MicroRNAs