Could Regulating Inflammation Help Treat Obesity?

Obesity is a major health problem in the industrialized world. Is a complex disease involving an excessive amount of body fat. Obesity isn’t just a cosmetic concern. It’s a medical problem that increases the risk of other diseases and health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers.

According to 2017–2018 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity affected 42.4% of adults in the U.S. 

Immune regulation has shown to play an important role in adipose tissue homeostasis; however, the initial events that shift the balance from a noninflammatory homeostatic environment toward inflammation leading to obesity are poorly understood. 

In a new study, researchers from Ireland and Germany addressed how managing certain cell components can help reduce obesity and the risk of related diseases. The study appears in the journal Science Translational Medicine. 

Study Development and Results 

The researchers used a mice model to study obesity levels in both wild and genetically modified mice. They speculated that the molecule programed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) plays a role in developing obesity. PD-L1 is a checkpoint protein involved in cell signaling within the immune system, it regulates the adipose tissue immune cell composition. 

Then they compared wild-type mice and mice genetically altered to lack this protein in different types of cells, including T cells, macrophages, dendritic cells and innate lymphoid cells. Both groups of mice were fed with a high fat diet.

The team found that the mice lacking PD-L1 on their dendritic cells gained significantly more weight after 12 weeks of being in the high fat diet, while also having an increase in insulin resistance. 

According to the researchers the new process of checkpoint regulation of cells in visceral fat of obese individuals increases our understanding of how the immune system can control diet-induced weight gain. 

They hope this discovery will lead to future weight loss treatments using PD-L1 as a target. 


Christian Schwartz, et al. Innate PD-L1 limits T cell–mediated adipose tissue inflammation and ameliorates diet-induced obesity. Scie Trans Med. 2022. Vol 14, Issue 635. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abj6879 

Erika Watts. (2022, Mar 22). Could regulating immune cells treat diet-induced obesity? Medical News Today. Retrieved from:

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