Changes in adipocytes and dendritic cells in lymph node-containing adipose depots during and after many weeks of mild inflammation

Sadler, Dawn; Mattacks, Christine A. and Pond, Caroline M. (2005). Changes in adipocytes and dendritic cells in lymph node-containing adipose depots during and after many weeks of mild inflammation. Journal of Anatomy, 207(6) pp. 769–789.



The time course and cellular basis for inflammation-induced hypertrophy of adipose tissue were investigated over 20 weeks in mature male rats. Mild inflammation was induced by subcutaneous injection of 20 µg lipopolysaccharide into one hind-leg three times/week for 4 or 8 weeks, followed by up to 12 weeks ‘rest’ without intervention. Mean volume and frequency of apoptosis (TUNEL assay) were measured in adipocytes isolated from sites defined by their anatomical relations to lymph nodes, plus numbers of C6kine-stimulated lymph node-derived and adipose tissue-derived dendritic cells. Experimental inflammation increased dendritic cells and adipocyte apoptosis in the locally-stimulated popliteal depot and the lymphoid tissue-associated regions of the contralateral popliteal and mesentery and omentum. Responses declined slowly after inflammation ended, but all measurements from the locally-stimulated popliteal depot, and the omentum, were still significantly different from controls after 12 weeks rest. The locally-stimulated popliteal adipose tissue enlarged by 5% within 4 weeks and remained larger than the control.
We conclude that prolonged inflammation induces permanent enlargement, greater adipocyte turnover and increased dendritic cell surveillence in the adjacent adipose tissue and the omentum. The experiment suggests a mechanism for selective hypertrophy of lymphatics-associated adipose tissue in chronic stress and inflammatory disorders including impaired lymph drainage, Crohn’s disease and HIV-associated lipodystrophy, and a link between evolutionary fitness, sexual selection and aesthetically pleasing body symmetry. It would be useful for further study of molecular mechanisms in inflammation-induced local hypertrophy of adipose tissue and development of specific therapies that avoid interference with whole-body lipid metabolism.

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