Immune system also controls weight

Recent studies have revealed that in addition to warding off bacteria and viruses, the immune system takes on functions including controlling body weight. In a study published in August in Immunity, Yosuke Kumamoto, Ph.D., associate research scientist, and Akiko Iwasaki, Ph.D., professor of immunobiology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, identified macrophages, or white blood cells, that reside within fat tissue to maintain body weight. When macrophages are depleted from mice in experiments, the mice stop eating and lose weight. These results indicate the importance of fat macrophages in maintaining our energy balance and suggest a possible intervention for obesity.

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Akiko Iwasaki

Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Immunobiology and Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology