, Volume 49, Issue 10, pp 2402-2411
Date: 29 Aug 2006

Protection from inflammatory disease in insulin resistance: the role of mannan-binding lectin

Abstract

Aims/hypothesis

Decreased sensing of the innate immune system may lead to chronic activation of the inflammatory cascade. We hypothesised that mannan-binding lectin (MBL) deficiency may confer risk of obesity and insulin resistance.

Materials and methods

We performed a cross-sectional study of MBL protein concentration (n=434) and MBL2 gene mutations (exon 1) (n=759) in association with obesity, markers of inflammation and insulin action (euglycaemic clamp, n=113), and a longitudinal study of MBL protein before and after weight loss in obese patients (n=10). We also studied the effects of MBL in vitro in muscle cells and circulating MBL-A (mouse equivalent of human MBL) in a mouse model.

Results

Among 434 consecutive non-diabetic men, the age-adjusted serum MBL concentration was lower in obese subjects than in lean subjects (median: 959 μg/ml [interquartile range: 116.8–2,044 μg/ml] vs 1,365 [467–2,513] μg/ml; p=0.01) and was accompanied by increased serum inflammatory markers. Insulin action correlated significantly with serum MBL (r=0.49, p<0.0001). Serum MBL concentration increased by a median of 110.2% after weight loss. The change in serum concentration of MBL was positively associated with the increase in insulin sensitivity (r=0.713, p=0.021). At least one MBL2 gene mutation was present in 48.2% of obese vs 39.3% of non-obese subjects (p=0.037). The plasma concentration of MBL-A was lower in insulin-resistant obese ob/ob mice, as was the glucose/insulin ratio. Incubation of rat soleus muscle with human MBL markedly increased fatty acid oxidation.

Conclusions/interpretation

These findings suggest that MBL, previously thought only to be involved in inflammation and immune system function, affects metabolic pathways.