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Visceral adipose tissue (VAT) inflammation contributes to metabolic dysregulation in obesity. VAT recruitment and activation of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) through toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) recognition of self-DNA, leading to induction of type I interferons, are crucial innate triggers for this VAT inflammation. It was hypothesized that mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) can contribute to TLR9 activation in VAT-recruited pDCs in obesity, and this study aimed to identify the carrier protein for ligand access to TLR9 and to explore whether this also provides for a source of autoantigens in this context. VAT samples, used for gene expression studies as well as adipose explant cultures, were collected from patients with obesity (n = 54) and lean patients (n = 10). Supernatants from human pDC cultures, treated with adipose explant culture supernatants, were used for interferon α ELISA. Venous plasma, from patients with (n = 114) and without (n = 45) obesity, was used for an ELISA for autoantibodies. MtDNA from VAT in obesity, in complex with mitochondrial transcription factor A protein (TFAM), acts as interferogenic ligands for pDCs. Humoral autoreactivity against TFAM is also induced in obesity. Interferogenic ligands and an autoantigen can be sourced from dysfunctional mitochondria in VAT of humans with obesity. Further therapeutic and prognostic potential for this immune mechanism in obesity warrants exploration. © 2023 The Obesity Society.


Amrit Raj Ghosh, Purbita Bandopadhyay, Jit Sarkar, Shashi Khanna, Tamonas Chaudhuri, Om Tantia, Partha Chakrabarti, Dipyaman Ganguly. Mitochondrial sourcing of interferogenic ligands and an autoantigen in human obesity-associated metaflammation. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.). 2023 Sep;31(9):2229-2234

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PMID: 37496088

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