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PLoS One. 2014 Apr 11;9(4):e94282. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094282. eCollection 2014.

B Lymphocyte Stimulator (BLyS) is expressed in human adipocytes in vivo and is related to obesity but not to insulin resistance.

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Department I of Internal Medicine, University of Kiel, Kiel, Germany.
Department of General, Abdominal, Thoracic and Transplantation Surgery, University of Kiel, Kiel, Germany.
Department for Internal Medicine, Clinic for Endocrinology and Nephrology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.
Department of General, Visceral and Cancer Surgery, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.
Institute of Medical Informatics and Statistics, University of Kiel, Kiel, Germany.


Inflammation and metabolism have been shown to be evolutionary linked and increasing evidence exists that pro-inflammatory factors are involved in the pathogenesis of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Until now, most data suggest that within adipose tissue these factors are secreted by cells of the innate immune system, e. g. macrophages. In the present study we demonstrate that B lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS) is increased in human obesity. In contrast to several pro-inflammatory factors, we found the source of BLyS in human adipose tissue to be the adipocytes rather than immune cells. In grade 3 obese human subjects, expression of BLyS in vivo in adipose tissue is significantly increased (p<0.001). Furthermore, BLyS serum levels are elevated in grade 3 human obesity (862.5+222.0 pg/ml vs. 543.7+60.7 pg/ml in lean controls, p<0.001) and are positively correlated to the BMI (r = 0.43, p<0.0002). In the present study, bariatric surgery significantly altered serum BLyS concentrations. In contrast, weight loss due to a very-low-calorie-formula-diet (800 kcal/d) had no such effect. To examine metabolic activity of BLyS, in a translational research approach, insulin sensitivity was measured in human subjects in vivo before and after treatment with the human recombinant anti-BLyS antibody belimumab. Since BLyS is known to promote B-cell proliferation and immunoglobulin secretion, the present data suggest that adipocytes of grade 3 obese human subjects are able to activate the adaptive immune system, suggesting that in metabolic inflammation in humans both, innate and adaptive immunity, are of pathophysiological relevance.

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