Deficiency of T cell CD40L has minor beneficial effects on obesity-induced metabolic dysfunction

Myrthe E. Reiche, Myrthe den Toom, Lisa Willemsen, Bram van Os, Marion J. J. Gijbels, Norbert Gerdes, Suzanne A. B. M. Aarts, Esther Lutgens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective Obesity-associated metabolic dysfunction increases the risk of multiple diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The importance of the co-stimulatory CD40-CD40L dyad in diet-induced obesity (DIO), with opposing phenotypes arising when either the receptor (aggravating) or the ligand (protective) is deleted, has been described previously. The functions of CD40 and CD40L are cell type dependent. As co-stimulation via T cell-mediated CD40L is essential for driving inflammation, we here investigate the role of T cell CD40L in DIO.

Research design and methods CD4CreCD40L(fl/fl) mice on a C57BL/6 background were generated and subjected to DIO by administration of 15 weeks of high fat diet (HFD).

Results HFD-fed CD4CreCD40L(fl/fl) mice had similar weight gain, adipocyte sizes, plasma cholesterol and triglyceride levels as their wild-type (WT) counterparts. Insulin and glucose tolerance were comparable, although CD4CreCD40L(fl/fl) mice did have a decreased plasma insulin concentration, suggesting a minor improvement of insulin resistance. Furthermore, although the degree of hepatosteatosis was similar in both genotypes, the gene expression of fatty acid synthase 1 and ATP-citrate lyase had decreased, whereas expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha had increased in livers of CD4CreCD40L(fl/fl) mice, suggesting decreased hepatic lipid uptake in absence of T cell CD40L.

Moreover, CD4CreCD40L(fl/fl) mice displayed significantly lower numbers of effector memory CD4(+) T cells and regulatory T cells in blood and lymphoid organs compared with WT. However, immune cell composition and inflammatory status of the adipose tissue was similar in CD4CreCD40L(fl/fl) and WT mice.

Conclusions T cell CD40L deficiency results in a minor improvement of insulin sensitivity and hepatic steatosis in DIO, despite the strong decrease in effector T cells and regulatory T cells in blood and lymphoid organs. Our data indicate that other CD40L-expressing cell types are more relevant in the pathogenesis of obesity-associated metabolic dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number000829
Number of pages10
JournalBMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019




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