Changes in human dendritic cell number and function in severe obesity may contribute to increased susceptibility to viral infection

D. O'Shea, M. Corrigan, M. R. Dunne, R. Jackson, C. Woods, G. Gaoatswe, P. N. Moynagh, J. O'Connell, A. E. Hogan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Citations (Scopus)


Dendritic cells (DCs) are key immune sentinels linking the innate and adaptive immune systems. DCs recognise danger signals and initiate T-cell tolerance, memory and polarisation. They are critical cells in responding to a viral illness. Obese individuals have been shown to have an impaired response to vaccinations against virally mediated conditions and to have an increased susceptibility to multi-organ failure in response to viral illness. We investigated if DCs are altered in an obese cohort (mean body mass index 51.7±7.3 kg m-2), ultimately resulting in differential T-cell responses. Circulating DCs were found to be significantly decreased in the obese compared with the lean cohort (0.82% vs 2.53%). Following Toll-like receptor stimulation, compared with lean controls, DCs generated from the obese cohort upregulated significantly less CD83 (40% vs 17% mean fluorescence intensity), a molecule implicated in the elicitation of T-cell responses, particularly viral responses. Obese DCs produced twofold more of the immunosuppressive cytokine interleukin (IL)-10 than lean controls, and in turn stimulated fourfold more IL-4-production from allogenic naive T cells. We conclude that obesity negatively impacts the ability of DCs to mature and elicit appropriate T-cell responses to a general stimulus. This may contribute to the increased susceptibility to viral infection observed in severe obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1510-1513
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • dendritic cell
  • T-cell response
  • vaccination
  • virus infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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