Li, P, et al., Functional Heterogeneity of Cd11c-Positive Adipose Tissue Macrophages in Diet-Induced Obese Mice. J Biol Chem, 2010. 285(20): 15333-45.
Obesity represents a state of chronic, low grade inflammation and is associated with infiltration of increased numbers of adipose tissue macrophages (ATMs). Diet-induced obesity leads to an increase in non-inflammatory M1-like ATMs displaying the CD11c surface marker. We assessed the function of CD11c-positive ATMs when insulin resistant high fat diet (HFD) mice become insulin-sensitive after switching from HFD to normal chow (NC). HFD mice rapidly become insulin-sensitive in all major insulin-target tissues, including muscle, liver, and adipose tissue, after the diet switch. In adipose tissue the CD11c-positive macrophages remain constant in number despite the presence of insulin sensitivity, but these macrophages now assume a new phenotype in which they no longer exhibit increased inflammatory pathway markers. Adipose tissue markers of apoptosis and necrosis were elevated on HFD and remain high after the HFD --> NC diet switch. Furthermore, ATM accumulation preceded detectable adipocyte necrosis at the early phase of HFD. Together, these results indicate that 1) CD11c-positive M1-like ATMs can exhibit phenotypic plasticity and that the polarization of these cells between inflammatory and non-inflammatory states is well correlated to the presence of absence of insulin resistance, and 2) adipocyte necrosis and apoptosis can be dissociated from ATM accumulation.