Interaction between human mature adipocytes and lymphocytes induces T-cell proliferation

Antonella Poloni, Giulia Maurizi, Marco Ciarlantini, Martina Medici, Domenico Mattiucci, Stefania Mancini, Angela Maurizi, Massimo Falconi, Attilio Olivieri, Pietro Leoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background aims: Adipose tissue is a critical organ that plays a major role in energy balance regulation and the immune response through intricate signals. Methods: We report on the inter-relation between mature adipocytes and lymphocytes in terms of adipocyte-derived T-cell chemo-attractants and adipocyte metabolic effects on lymphocytes. Results: During the culture time, mature adipocytes changed their structural and functional properties into de-differentiated cells. Isolated mature adipocytes expressed significantly higher levels of CIITA, major histocompatibility complex II (human leukocyte antigen [HLA]-DR) and costimulatory signal molecule CD80 compared with adipocytes after the de-differentiation process. Moreover, human leukocyte antigen-G, which may prevent the immune responses of mesenchymal stromal cells, was expressed at lower level in mature adipocytes compared with de-differentiated adipocytes. In line with these molecular data, functional results showed different immunoregulatory properties between adipocytes before and after the de-differentiation process. Mature adipocytes stimulated the proliferation of total lymphocytes and immunoselected cell populations CD3+, CD4+ and CD8+ in a direct contact-dependent way that involved the major histocompatibility complex I and II pathways. Moreover, adipocytes secreted potential chemo-attractant factors, but data showed that adipocyte-derived culture medium was not sufficient to activate lymphocyte proliferation, suggesting that a direct contact between adipocytes and immune cells was needed. However, specific mature adipocyte cytokines enhanced lymphocyte proliferation in a mixed lymphocyte reaction. Conclusions: In conclusion, cross-talk occurs between adipocytes and lymphocytes within adipose tissue involving T-cell chemo-attraction by mature adipocytes. Our findings, together with current observations in the field, provide a rationale to identify adipocyte-lymphocyte cross-talk that instigates adipose inflammation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1292-1301
Number of pages10
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • De-differentiated adipocytes
  • Inflammation
  • Mature adipocytes
  • T-cell activation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Oncology
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Transplantation
  • Cancer Research
  • Cell Biology


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