Dopaminergic Pathways in Obesity-Associated Inflammation

  • Fernanda LeiteEmail author
  • Laura Ribeiro
Invited Review


The overwhelming prevalence of obesity is a priority for public health compromising human lifespan and representing important economic burden worldwide. Obesity is characterized by a state of chronic low-grade inflammation associated to metabolic dysfunction. Although the efforts for unravelling the complex immunometabolic signaling pathways to explain the association of obesity with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and psychiatric disorders, we still do not have all the picture to design effective therapeutic to fight these immunometabolic disease clusters. Dopaminergic pathways apart from having a major role in the regulation of appetite and feeding behaviors are important immunoregulators in inflammation; thus, dopaminergic regulation is suggested to impact obesity- associated inflammation. Dopamine (DA) has been reported to modulate immune function and immune cells themselves produce endogenous DA. DA-induced immunomodulation is currently the focus of intense experimental research and dopaminergic pathways are increasingly considered a target for drug development in immune diseases. While the role of dopaminergic pathways in immune-mediated diseases has been intensively investigated in neurodegenerative diseases, dopaminergic immunomodulation in obesity-associated inflammation is largely unknown. This review will integrate the actual knowledge about dopaminergic pathways involved in obesity-associated inflammation with special focus on immune innate key cell players. We present an explanatory hypothesis with a model that integrate central and peripheral dopaminergic circuits in the relationship between neuroimmune and metabolic systems in obesity-associated inflammation. A perspective on the potential role of dopaminergic drugs in the context of obesity will be given.

Graphical Abstract

Graphical representation of central and peripheral dopaminergic pathways in obesity-associated inflammation


Obesity Inflammation Dopamine Dopaminergic pathways Immune cells Adipocytes Neuron 


Author Contribution

All authors were involved in study conception and design, acquisition, analysis and interpretation of relevant literature. All authors were involved in drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content, and all authors approved the final version to be published. All authors agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved and declare to have confidence in the integrity of the contributions of their co-authors.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Clinical HaematologyCentro Hospitalar Universitário of PortoPortoPortugal
  2. 2.Unit for Multidisciplinary Research in Biomedicine, Abel Salazar Institute of Biomedical SciencesUniversity of Porto- UMIB/ICBAS/UPPortoPortugal
  3. 3.Department of Public Health and Forensic Sciences, and Medical Education, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal
  4. 4.Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde (I3S)University of PortoPortoPortugal

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