In human obesity, the stroma vascular fraction (SVF) of white adipose tissue (WAT) is enriched in macrophages. These cells may contribute to low-grade inflammation and to its metabolic complications. Little is known about the effect of weight loss on macrophages and genes involved in macrophage attraction. We examined subcutaneous WAT (scWAT) of 7 lean and 17 morbidly obese subjects before and 3 months after bypass surgery. Immunomorphological changes of the number of scWAT-infiltrating macrophages were evaluated, along with concomitant changes in expression of SVF-overexpressed genes. The number of scWAT-infiltrating macrophages before surgery was higher in obese than in lean subjects (HAM56+/CD68+; 22.6 +/- 4.3 vs. 1.4 +/- 0.6%, P < 0.001). Typical "crowns" of macrophages were observed around adipocytes. Drastic weight loss resulted in a significant decrease in macrophage number (-11.63 +/- 2.3%, P < 0.001), and remaining macrophages stained positive for the anti-inflammatory protein interleukin 10. Genes involved in macrophage attraction (monocyte chemotactic protein [MCP]-1, plasminogen activator urokinase receptor [PLAUR], and colony-stimulating factor [CSF]-3) and hypoxia (hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha [HIF-1alpha]), expression of which increases in obesity and decreases after surgery, were predominantly expressed in the SVF. We show that improvement of the inflammatory profile after weight loss is related to a reduced number of macrophages in scWAT. MCP-1, PLAUR, CSF-3, and HIF-1alpha may play roles in the attraction of macrophages in scWAT.
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