Circulating and adipose tissue immune cells in tissue-specific insulin resistance in humans with overweight and obesity

Inez Trouwborst, Kristiaan Wouters, Johan W. Jocken, Kelly M. Jardon, Anouk Gijbels, Pieter C. Dagnelie, Marleen M.J. van Greevenbroek, Carla J. van der Kallen, Coen D.A. Stehouwer, Casper G. Schalkwijk, Nathalie Richard, Igor Bendik, Lydia A. Afman, Ellen E. Blaak, Gijs H. Goossens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: A proinflammatory adipose tissue (AT) microenvironment and systemic low-grade inflammation may differentially affect tissue-specific insulin sensitivity. This study investigated the relationships of abdominal subcutaneous AT (aSAT) and circulating immune cells, aSAT gene expression, and circulating inflammatory markers with liver and skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity in people with overweight and obesity. Methods: Individuals with overweight and obesity from the PERSonalized Glucose Optimization Through Nutritional Intervention (PERSON) Study (n = 219) and the Maastricht Study (replication cohort; n = 1256) underwent a seven-point oral glucose tolerance test to assess liver and muscle insulin sensitivity, and circulating inflammatory markers were determined. In subgroups, flow cytometry was performed to identify circulating and aSAT immune cells, and aSAT gene expression was evaluated. Results: The relative abundances of circulating T cells, nonclassical monocytes, and CD56dim CD16+ natural killer cells were inversely associated with liver, but not muscle, insulin sensitivity in the PERSON Study. The inverse association between circulating (classical) monocytes and liver insulin sensitivity was confirmed in the Maastricht Study. In aSAT, immune cell populations were not related to insulin sensitivity. Furthermore, aSAT gene expression of interleukin 6 and CD14 was positively associated with muscle, but not liver, insulin sensitivity. Conclusions: The present findings demonstrate that circulating immune cell populations and inflammatory gene expression in aSAT show distinct associations with liver and muscle insulin sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1326-1337
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


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