Brestoff JR, Kim BS, Saenz SA, Stine RR, Monticelli LA, Sonnenberg GF, Thome JJ, Farber DL, Lutfy K, Seale P, Artis D. Group 2 innate lymphoid cells promote beiging of white adipose tissue and limit obesity. Nature. 2015; 519(7542):242-6. PMID: 25533952.
Obesity is an increasingly prevalent disease regulated by genetic and environmental factors. Emerging studies indicate that immune cells, including monocytes, granulocytes and lymphocytes, regulate metabolic homeostasis and are dysregulated in obesity. Group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s) can regulate adaptive immunity and eosinophil and alternatively activated macrophage responses, and were recently identified in murine white adipose tissue (WAT) where they may act to limit the development of obesity. However, ILC2s have not been identified in human adipose tissue, and the mechanisms by which ILC2s regulate metabolic homeostasis remain unknown. Here we identify ILC2s in human WAT and demonstrate that decreased ILC2 responses in WAT are a conserved characteristic of obesity in humans and mice. Interleukin (IL)-33 was found to be critical for the maintenance of ILC2s in WAT and in limiting adiposity in mice by increasing caloric expenditure. This was associated with recruitment of uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1)+ beige adipocytes in WAT, a process known as beiging or browning that regulates caloric expenditure. IL-33-induced beiging was dependent on ILC2s, and IL-33 treatment or transfer of IL-33-elicited ILC2s was sufficient to drive beiging independently of the adaptive immune system, eosinophils or IL-4 receptor signalling. We found that ILC2s produce methionine-enkephalin peptides that can act directly on adipocytes to upregulate Ucp1 expression in vitro and that promote beiging in vivo. Collectively, these studies indicate that, in addition to responding to infection or tissue damage, ILC2s can regulate adipose function and metabolic homeostasis in part via production of enkephalin peptides that elicit beiging.