High-fat diet induced central adiposity (visceral fat) is associated with increased fibrosis and decreased immune cellularity of the mesenteric lymph node in mice



Accumulation of visceral, but not subcutaneous, adipose tissue is highly associated with metabolic disease. Inflammation inciting from adipose tissue is commonly associated with metabolic disease risk and comorbidities. However, constituents of the immune system, lymph nodes, embedded within these adipose depots remain under-investigated. We hypothesize that, lymph nodes are inherently distinct and differentially respond to diet-induced obesity much like the adipose depots they reside in.


Adipose tissue and lymph nodes were collected from the visceral and inguinal depots of male mice fed 13 weeks of standard CHOW or high fat diet (HFD). Immune cells were isolated from tissues, counted and characterized by flow cytometry or plated for proliferative capacity following Concanavalin A stimulation. Lymph node size and fibrosis area were also characterized.


In HFD fed mice visceral adipose tissue accumulation was associated with significant enlargement of the lymph node encased within. The subcutaneous lymph node did not change. Compared with mice fed CHOW for 13 weeks, mice fed HFD had a decline in immune cell populations and immune cell proliferative ability, as well as, exacerbated fibrosis accumulation, within the visceral, but not subcutaneous, lymph node.


Obesity-induced chronic low-grade inflammation is associated with impaired immunity and increased susceptibility to disease. Excessive visceral adiposity and associated inflammation driven by diet likely leads to obesity-induced immune suppression by way of lymph node/lymphatic system pathophysiology.

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This study was supported by NIH NIDDK R03DK099425.

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Correspondence to Michelle T. Foster.

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Magnuson, A.M., Regan, D.P., Booth, A.D. et al. High-fat diet induced central adiposity (visceral fat) is associated with increased fibrosis and decreased immune cellularity of the mesenteric lymph node in mice. Eur J Nutr 59, 1641–1654 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-019-02019-z

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  • Lymphatics
  • Pro-inflammation
  • Central obesity
  • Metabolic disease
  • Visceral adiposity