February 7, 2022

Lindsey Muir and Others From Rajapakse Lab Publishes

The link between obesity and illness, particularly type 2 diabetes, is well known. Yet researchers are actively working to understand what it is about fat tissue that leads to metabolic disease. Studies in mice have shown that an increase in immune cells called macrophages in fat tissue causes insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. Macrophages gobble up foreign material, break it down and help other immune cells determine whether that material is a threat.

Lindsey Muir, Ph.D., first author and research assistant professor with the Department of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics, and teams in the laboratories of Robert O’Rourke, M.D, and Carey Lumeng, M.D., Ph.D., at the University of Michigan Medical School examined whether fat from humans followed the same pattern. 

“Our overarching question is how immune cell types in fat are changing,” said Muir. One observation made via mouse studies of obesity is that macrophages change a lot within fat tissue, increasing in number and  skewing away from a normal proportion of different types. Furthermore, diabetes combined with obesity also is reflected in changes in macrophages.

Lindsey Muir, Ph.D.

Lindsey Muir, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professor of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics