Peripheral invariant natural killer T cell deficiency in metabolically unhealthy but normal weight versus metabolically healthy but obese individuals

Xiao-Li Wang, Xiang-Yun Chang, Xiao-Xiao Tang, Zhi-Gang Chen, Ting Zhou, Kan Sun
Journal of International Medical Research 2016, 44 (6): 1272-1282
Objective To investigate the proportion of circulating invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells in four body health types. Methods In this cross-sectional study, participants were classified into four body health types according to the body mass index and metabolic status: metabolically healthy and normal weight (MHNW), metabolically unhealthy but normal weight (MUNW), metabolically healthy but obese (MHO), or metabolically unhealthy and obese (MUO). Demographic and clinical characteristics were measured, and the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and visceral adiposity index (VAI) were calculated. The proportion of circulating iNKT cells was also evaluated by flow cytometry. Results The study enrolled 41 MHNW, 37 MUNW, 30 MHO, and 43 MUO participants. Compared with the MHNW group, the MUNW, MHO, and MUO groups had significantly lower iNKT cell proportions. The iNKT cell proportion was significantly higher in the MHO group than the MUNW and MUO groups. The iNKT cell proportion was inversely correlated with high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, HOMA-IR, and VAI values. Conclusion The proportion of iNKT cells was lower in people (lean or obese) with excessive visceral fat accumulation, suggesting that iNKT cell deficiency may be involved in the pathophysiology of obesity-related metabolic disorders.

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