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F1000 Biol Rep. 2012;4:13. doi: 10.3410/B4-13. Epub 2012 Jul 2.

Leukocyte set points in metabolic disease.

Abstract

Vertebrate tissues comprise precise admixtures of parenchymal and hematopoietic cells, whose interactions are vital to proper tissue function. By regulating this interaction, vertebrates are able to mitigate environmental stress and coordinate dramatic physiologic adaptations. For instance, under conditions of chronic nutrient excess, leukocyte recruitment and activation increase in an effort to decrease excess nutrient storage and alleviate adipocyte stress. While basal equilibria may be reestablished upon normalization of nutrient intake, a new set point characterized by insulin resistance and chronic inflammation is established if the stress persists. Consequently, although this response is adaptive in settings of acute overfeeding and infection, it has catastrophic health consequences in the modern context of obesity. Understanding how leukocyte set points (numbers and activation status) are established, maintained, and regulated in tissues is, thus, critical to our understanding of, and intervention in, chronic metabolic diseases, such as obesity and diabetes.

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