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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Aug 6;110(32):13079-84. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1311557110. Epub 2013 Jul 22.

Regulation of adipose tissue T cell subsets by Stat3 is crucial for diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance.

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Department of Cancer Immunotherapeutics and Tumor Immunology, Beckman Research Institute, Duarte, CA 91010, USA.


Dysregulated inflammation in adipose tissue, marked by increased proinflammatory T-cell accumulation and reduced regulatory T cells (Tregs), contributes to obesity-associated insulin resistance. The molecular mechanisms underlying T-cell-mediated inflammation in adipose tissue remain largely unknown, however. Here we show a crucial role for signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3) in T cells in skewing adaptive immunity in visceral adipose tissue (VAT), thereby contributing to diet-induced obesity (DIO) and insulin resistance. Stat3 activity is elevated in obese VAT and in VAT-resident T cells. Functional ablation of Stat3 in T cells reduces DIO, improves insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, and suppresses VAT inflammation. Importantly, Stat3 ablation reverses the high Th1/Treg ratio in VAT of DIO mice that is likely secondary to elevated IL-6 production, leading in turn to suppression of Tregs. In addition, Stat3 in T cells in DIO mice affects adipose tissue macrophage accumulation and M2 phenotype. Our study identifies Stat3 in VAT-resident T cells as an important mediator and direct target for regulating adipose tissue inflammation, DIO, and its associated metabolic dysfunctions.

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