BACKGROUND: Worldwide, the prevalence of obesity and insulin resistance has grown dramatically. Gene expression profiling in blood represents a powerful means to explore disease pathogenesis, but the potential impact of inter-individual differences in a cell-type profile is not always taken into account. The objective of this project was to investigate the whole blood transcriptome profile of insulin-resistant as compared to insulin-sensitive individuals independent of inter-individual differences in white blood cell profile.

RESULTS: We report a 3% higher relative amount of monocytes in the insulin-resistant individuals. Furthermore, independent of their white blood cell profile, insulin-resistant participants had (i) higher expression of interferon-stimulated genes and (ii) lower expression of genes involved in cellular differentiation and remodeling of the actin cytoskeleton.

CONCLUSIONS: We present an approach to investigate the whole blood transcriptome of insulin-resistant individuals, independent of their DNA methylation-derived white blood cell profile. An interferon-related signature characterizes the whole blood transcriptome profile of the insulin-resistant individuals, independent of their white blood cell profile. The observed signature indicates increased systemic inflammation possibly due to an innate immune response and whole-body insulin resistance, which can be a cause or a consequence of insulin resistance. Altered gene expression in specific organs may be reflected in whole blood; hence, our results may reflect obesity and/or insulin resistance-related organ dysfunction in the insulin-resistant individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22
Number of pages13
JournalGenes and nutrition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2021


  • Insulin resistance
  • Obesity
  • Whole blood transcriptome
  • Monocytes
  • Inter-individual differences
  • Interferon signature

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