Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program


Program in Molecular Medicine

First Thesis Advisor

Michael P. Czech


obesity, adipose tissue, insulin, macrophages, metabolism, gene silencing, siRNA


Obesity is the top risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus in humans. Obese adipose tissue, particularly visceral depots, exhibits an increase in macrophage accumulation and is described as being in a state of chronic low-grade inflammation. It is characterized by the increased expression and secretion of inflammatory cytokines produced by both macrophages and adipocytes, and is associated with the development of insulin resistance. Based on these observations, we investigated the potential role of macrophage infiltration on whole body metabolism, using genetic and diet-induced mouse models of obesity.

Using flow cytometry and immunofluorescence imaging we found that a significant percentage of macrophages proliferate locally in adipose tissue of obese mice. Importantly, we identified monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1) as the stimulating factor. We also found that ATMs can be targeted for specific gene silencing using glucan encapsulated siRNA particles (GeRPs). Knockdown of the cytokine osteopontin improved regulation of systemic glucose levels as well as insulin signaling in adipocytes. Conversely, targeting lipoprotein lipase (LPL) abrogated the buffering of lipid spillover from adipose tissue, resulting in increased hepatic glucose output. Finally, silencing of the master regulator of inflammation NF-κB in resident liver macrophages called Kupffer cells significantly improved hepatic insulin signaling. Thus this work demonstrates that macrophages can regulate whole body metabolism.



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