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Summary:    

With the support of a NORCH Pilot & Feasibility award, Dr. Su and colleagues in the Genomics and Cell Biology Core studied the effect of Helminth infection on immune and metabolic parameters.  The findings show that helminth infection protects against weight gain on a high fat diet (HFD, see top figure, showing weight gain in HFD mice [red] vs. HFD + helminth infected) and also results in relative preservation of insulin sensitivity.  Compared to helminth-infected mice on HFD, control mice on HFD show significantly higher amounts of gonadal and subcutaneous adipose tissue, as well as increased liver fat (see bottom figure, which shows triglyceride accumulation in red via ORO staining, increased in HFD but attenuated in helminth infected mice).  The metabolic effects of helminth infection were associated with significant upregulation of uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) as well as enhanced helminth-induced Th2/Treg responses and M2 macrophage polarization.  When macrophages from helminth-infected mice were subsequently transferred to non-infected mice, there was a significant amelioration of HFD-induced obesity and increased adipose tissue browning.  These results demonstrate that helminth infection protects against HFD-induced obesity via the induction of M2 macrophages.

 

Citation: 

Su CW, Chen CY, Li Y, Long SR, Massey W, Kumar DV, Walker WAShi HN. Helminth infection protects against high fat diet-induced obesity via induction of alternatively activated macrophages.  Sci Rep. 2018 Mar 15;8(1):4607. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-22920-7.  PMID:  29545532.

 

Research Details:

  • Research Center: Harvard Medical School
  • Featured NORC Members: Allan Walker, MD, Conrad Taff Professor of Pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and Hai Ning Shi, PhD, DVM, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
  • Center Contributions: Su conducted this work with a NORCH Pilot & Feasibility Award and the assistance of the Genomics and Cell Biology Core.  Dr. Shi is Co-Associate Director of the Genomics and Cell Biology Core.

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