Deficiency of the hemoglobin-haptoglobin receptor, CD163, worsens insulin sensitivity in obese male mice

bioRxiv [Preprint]. 2024 Jun 3:2024.05.31.596887. doi: 10.1101/2024.05.31.596887.


Excessive iron accumulation in metabolic organs such as the adipose tissue, liver, and skeletal muscle is associated with increased diabetes risk. Tissue-resident macrophages serve multiple roles including managing inflammatory tone and regulating parachymal iron homeostasis; thus protecting against metabolic dysfunction upon iron overload. The scavenger receptor CD163 is uniquely present on tissue-resident macrophages, and plays a significant role in iron homeostasis by clearing extracellular hemoglobin-haptoglobin complexes, thereby limiting oxidative damage caused by free hemoglobin in metabolic tissues. We show that the absence of CD163 exacerbates glucose intolerance and insulin resistance in male mice with obesity. Additionally, loss of CD163 reduced the expression of iron regulatory genes (Tfr1, Cisd1, Slc40a1) in adipose tissue macrophages and anti-inflammatory (M2-like) bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDMs). Further, CD163 deficiency mediated a pro-inflammatory shift and limited hemoglobin scavenging specifically in M2-like BMDMs. To this end, iron buffering was diminished in inguinal white adipose tissue (iWAT) macrophages in vivo, which culminated in iron spillover into adipocytes and CD45+CD11B- non-myeloid immune cells in iWAT. These findings show that CD163 on tissue-resident macrophages is critical for their anti-inflammatory and hemoglobin scavenging roles, and its absence results in impaired systemic insulin action in an obese setting.

Keywords: CD163; immunometabolism; insulin sensitivity; iron; macrophage.

Publication types

  • Preprint