Extrinsic and Intrinsic Immunometabolism Converge: Perspectives on Future Research and Therapeutic Development for Obesity

  • Heather L. Caslin
  • Alyssa H. HastyEmail author
Obesity Treatment (CM Apovian, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Obesity Treatment


Purpose of Review

Research over the past decade has shown that immunologic and metabolic pathways are intricately linked. This burgeoning field of immunometabolism includes intrinsic and extrinsic pathways and is known to be associated with obesity-accelerated metabolic disease. Intrinsic immunometabolism includes the study of fuel utilization and bioenergetic pathways that influence immune cell function. Extrinsic immunometabolism includes the study of immune cells and products that influence systemic metabolism.

Recent Findings

Th2 immunity, macrophage iron handling, adaptive immune memory, and epigenetic regulation of immunity, which all require intrinsic metabolic changes, play a role in systemic metabolism and metabolic function, linking the two arms of immunometabolism. Together, this suggests that targeting intrinsic immunometabolism can directly affect immune function and ultimately systemic metabolism.


We highlight important questions for future basic research that will help improve translational research and provide therapeutic targets to help establish new treatments for obesity and associated metabolic disorders.


Immunometabolism Obesity Adipose tissue Immunology Th2 immunity Adaptive immunity Iron handling Epigenetics Therapeutic development 



We would like to acknowledge Ellen T. Yu for her essential help in creating the figure for this manuscript, created in ©BioRender - HL Caslin is supported by the Molecular Endocrinology Training Grant (DK07563). AH Hasty is supported by a Merit Award from the Veterans Affairs (5I01BX002195) and an Innovative Basic Science award from the American Diabetes Association (1-17-IBS-140).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Heather L. Caslin and Alyssa H. Hasty declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Molecular Physiology and BiophysicsVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare SystemNashvilleUSA

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