The co-stimulatory CD40-CD40L dyad plays an important role in chronic inflammatory diseases associated with ageing. Although CD40 is mainly expressed by immune cells, CD40 is also present on adipocytes. We aimed to delineate the role of adipocyte-CD40 in the aging haematopoietic system and evaluated the effects of adipocyte CD40 deficiency on cardiometabolic diseases.
Adult adipocyte CD40-deficient mice (AdiCD40KO) mice had a decrease in bone marrow (BM) haematopoietic stem cells (Lin-Sca+cKit+, LSK) and common lymphoid progenitors, which was associated with increased BM adiposity and T-cell activation, along with elevated plasma corticosterone levels, a phenotype that became more pronounced with age.
Atherosclerotic AdiCD40koApoE-/- (CD40AKO) mice also displayed changes in the LSK population, showing increased myeloid- and lymphoid multipotent progenitors, and augmented corticosterone levels. Increased T-cell activation could be observed in BM, spleen, and adipose tissue (AT), while B-cell numbers were decreased. Although atherosclerosis was reduced in CD40AKO mice, plaques contained more activated T-cells and larger necrotic cores.
Analysis of peripheral AT in a diet-induced obesity model revealed that obese AdiCD40KO mice showed increased T-cell activation in AT and lymphoid organs, but exhibited decreased weight gain and improved insulin sensitivity, along with increased fat oxidation. In conclusion, adipocyte CD40 plays an important role in maintaining immune cell homeostasis in BM during ageing and chronic inflammatory diseases, particularly of the lymphoid populations. Although adipocyte CD40-deficiency reduces atherosclerosis burden and ameliorates diet-induced obesity, the accompanying T-cell activation may eventually aggravate cardiometabolic diseases.
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