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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2012 Jul;20(7):1481-90. doi: 10.1038/oby.2011.370. Epub 2012 Jan 19.

Early alterations of the immune transcriptome in cultured progenitor cells from obese African-American women.

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Clinical Research Center, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA.


Progenitor cells (PCs) are key components of vasculogenic remodeling and hematopoietic development. Decreases in the number and function of angiogenic progenitors have been observed in coronary artery disease, hypertension, and diabetic vasculopathy. Several recent studies have also demonstrated a close relationship between increased visceral fat and cardiovascular disease, implying an association between obesity and vascular dysfunction. However, very little is known about the role of PCs in obesity. We generated whole genome expression profiles of cultured PCs from 18 obese and 6 lean African-American women on Agilent microarrays and analyzed the data through bioinformatic pathway analysis using multiple databases and analytic tools. False-discovery rates (FDR) were calculated to assess statistical significance while controlling for multiple testing. We identified 1,145 upregulated and 2,257 downregulated genes associated with obesity (1.5-fold or greater absolute fold-change). Pathway analysis further identified a statistically significant downregulation of immune-response pathways in the obese subjects, including T-cell receptor signaling, natural killer cell signaling, and chemokine-signaling pathways (FDR <5%). Chemokine gene-expression patterns were consistent with an angiogenic-angiostatic imbalance and a downregulation of CXCR3 receptor-mediated signaling in the PCs from obese subjects. Overall, these findings reveal a novel transcriptional signature in cultured PCs from obese African-American women and further suggest that obesity-associated immune-compromise may originate much earlier in cellular development than currently appreciated. Clinically, this may translate into a lengthier period of immune dysregulation in obese subjects exposing them to greater risks of infection and other morbidities.

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