Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program



First Thesis Advisor

Pranoti Mandrekar, Ph.D.


Adipose, liver, inflammation, TLR4, macrophage, alcoholic liver disease, biological sex, sexual dimorphism


Adipose tissue inflammation has an impact on liver health and it has been demonstrated that chronic alcohol consumption leads to the expression of pro-inflammatory markers in the adipose tissue. A thorough characterization of alcohol-induced adipose inflammation is lacking, and is important to understand in order to identify immune-related mechanisms that drive this phenomenon. Current therapeutic regimens for alcoholic liver disease are ineffective. It is critical to understand how other organs influence liver injury in this disease when developing novel and effective therapies in the future.

Alcoholic liver disease exhibits a sexual dimorphism; women are more susceptible to liver injury than men and the same paradigm exists in rodent models. Here, I demonstrate that female mice have greater alcohol-induced adipose tissue inflammation than male mice, evidenced by greater expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines and cell markers. Further, female mice also exhibit higher expression of toll-like receptor genes in the adipose tissue, suggesting a potential role for the innate immune system in alcohol-induced adipose inflammation.

Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) has been demonstrated to drive inflammation in both the liver and adipose tissue. I used both germline and conditional knockouts of Tlr4 to characterize alcohol-induced changes in the immune cell composition of adipose tissue. Alcohol increased the number of pro-inflammatory adipose tissue macrophages. This macrophage phenotype switching is partially dependent on TLR4; germline, but not myeloid-specific, Tlr4-deletion prevents macrophage phenotype switching. Overall, my work demonstrates that alcohol-induced adipose tissue inflammation is related to liver injury and that TLR4 contributes to adipose macrophage phenotype switching.



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