We recently demonstrated that removal of one kidney (uninephrectomy [UniNx]) in mice reduced high-fat diet (HFD)-induced adipose tissue inflammation, thereby improving adipose tissue and hepatic insulin sensitivity. Of note, circulating cystatin C (CysC) levels were increased in UniNx compared with sham-operated mice. Importantly, CysC may have anti-inflammatory properties, and circulating CysC levels were reported to positively correlate with obesity in humans and as shown here in HFD-fed mice. However, the causal relationship of such observation remains unclear. HFD feeding of CysC-deficient (CysC knockout [KO]) mice worsened obesity-associated adipose tissue inflammation and dysfunction, as assessed by proinflammatory macrophage accumulation. In addition, mRNA expression of proinflammatory mediators was increased, whereas markers of adipocyte differentiation were decreased. Similar to findings in adipose tissue, expression of proinflammatory cytokines was increased in liver and skeletal muscle of CysC KO mice. In line, HFD-induced hepatic insulin resistance and impairment of glucose tolerance were further aggravated in KO mice. Consistently, chow-fed CysC KO mice were more susceptible to lipopolysaccharide-induced adipose tissue inflammation. In people with obesity, circulating CysC levels correlated negatively with adipose tissue Hif1α as well as IL6 mRNA expression. Moreover, healthy (i.e., insulin-sensitive) subjects with obesity had significantly higher mRNA expression of CysC in white adipose tissue. In conclusion, CysC is upregulated under obesity conditions and thereby counteracts inflammation of peripheral insulin-sensitive tissues and, thus, obesity-associated deterioration of glucose metabolism.
- Received December 5, 2019.
- Accepted June 20, 2020.
- © 2020 by the American Diabetes Association