Circulating Blood Monocyte Subclasses and Lipid-Laden Adipose Tissue Macrophages in Human Obesity

Tal Pecht, Yulia Haim, Nava Bashan, Hagit Shapiro, Ilana Harman-Boehm, Boris Kirshtein, Karine Clément, Iris Shai, Assaf Rudich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Visceral adipose tissue foam cells are increased in human obesity, and were implicated in adipose dysfunction and increased cardio-metabolic risk. In the circulation, non-classical monocytes (NCM) are elevated in obesity and associate with atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes. We hypothesized that circulating NCM correlate and/or are functionally linked to visceral adipose tissue foam cells in obesity, potentially providing an approach to estimate visceral adipose tissue status in the non-surgical obese patient. Methods We preformed ex-vivo functional studies utilizing sorted monocyte subclasses from healthy donors. Moreover, we assessed circulating blood monocyte subclasses and visceral fat adipose tissue macrophage (ATM) lipid content by flow-cytometry in paired blood and omental-fat samples collected from patients (n = 65) undergoing elective abdominal surgery. Results Ex-vivo, NCM and NCM-derived macrophages exhibited lower lipid accumulation capacity compared to classical or intermediate monocytes/-derived macrophages. Moreover, of the three subclasses, NCM exhibited the lowest migration towards adipose tissue conditionedmedia. In a cohort of n = 65, increased %NCM associated with higher BMI (r = 0.250, p<0.05) and ATM lipid content (r = 0.303,p<0.05). Among patients with BMI≥25Kg/m2 , linear regression models adjusted for age, sex or BMI revealed that NCM independently associate with ATM lipid content, particularly in men. Conclusions Collectively, although circulating blood NCM are unlikely direct functional precursor cells for adipose tissue foam cells, their increased percentage in the circulation may clinically reflect higher lipid content in visceral ATMs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0159350
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


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