To identify, localize, and determine M1/M2 polarization of epidydimal adipose tissue (eAT) macrophages (s) during high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity.


Male C57BL/6 mice were fed an HFD (60% fat kcal) or low-fat diet (LFD) (10% fat kcal) for 8 or 12 weeks. eATMs (F4/80+ cells) were characterized by in vivo fluorescent labeling, immunohistochemistry, fluorescence-activated cell sorting, and quantitative PCR.


Recruited interstitial macrophage galactose-type C-type lectin (MGL)1+/CD11c and crown-like structure–associated MGL1/CD11c+ and MGL1med/CD11c+ eATMs were identified after 8 weeks of HFD. MGL1med/CD11c+ cells comprised ~65% of CD11c+ eATMs. CD11c+ eATMs expressed a mixed M1/M2 profile, with some M1 transcripts upregulated (IL-12p40 and IL-1β), others downregulated (iNOS, caspase-1, MCP-1, and CD86), and multiple M2 and matrix remodeling transcripts upregulated (arginase-1, IL-1Ra, MMP-12, ADAM8, VEGF, and Clec-7a). At HFD week 12, each eATM subtype displayed an enhanced M2 phenotype as compared with HFD week 8. CD11c+ subtypes downregulated IL-1β and genes mediating antigen presentation (I-a, CD80) and upregulated the M2 hallmark Ym-1 and genes promoting oxidative metabolism (PGC-1) and adipogenesis (MMP-2). MGL1med/CD11c+ eATMs upregulated additional M2 genes (IL-13, SPHK1, CD163, LYVE-1, and PPAR-). MGL1med/CD11c+ ATMs expressing elevated PGC-1, PPAR-, and Ym-1 transcripts were selectively enriched in eAT of obese mice fed pioglitazone for 6 days, confirming the M2 features of the MGL1med/CD11c+ eATM transcriptional profile and implicating PPAR activation in its elicitation.


These results 1) redefine the phenotypic potential of CD11c+ eATMs and 2) suggest previously unappreciated phenotypic and functional commonality between murine and human ATMs in the development of obesity and its complications.


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