Inflammation originating from the adipose tissue is considered to be one of the main driving forces for the development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes in obese individuals. Although a plethora of different immune cells shapes adipose tissue inflammation, this review is specifically focused on the contribution of macrophages that reside in adipose tissue in lean and obese conditions. Both conventional and tissue-specific functions of adipose tissue macrophages (ATMs) in lean and obese adipose tissue are discussed and linked with metabolic and inflammatory changes that occur during the development of obesity. Furthermore, we will address various circulating and adipose tissue-derived triggers that may be involved in shaping the ATM phenotype and underlie ATM function in lean and obese conditions. Finally, we will highlight how these changes affect adipose tissue inflammation and may be targeted for therapeutic interventions to improve insulin sensitivity in obese individuals.
|• Macrophages play a significant role in regulating adipose tissue functioning during health and disease|
|• In addition to conventional functions such as clearing cellular debris and participating in tissue immune surveillance, lipid buffering is an important function of ATMs|
|• Obesity-induced inflammation, characterised by an elevated number of proinflammatory macrophages in adipose tissue, has been suggested to contribute to systemic insulin resistance|
|• Their origin, as well as a combination of peripheral changes and adipose tissue-derived stressors, probably contribute to ATM dysfunction and inflammatory traits during obesity|
|• Identification of transcriptional differences between ATMs from lean vs obese adipose tissue at several key points during the development of obesity and insulin resistance may reveal upstream triggers, regulatory factors and intracellular pathways that shape ATM function|
|• Targeting metabolic capacity rather than the inflammatory phenotype of ATMs may hold potential to restore ATM function and adipose tissue homeostasis in obese individuals|