Tracing the relationship between metabolism and immune response

The delicate balance between our metabolism and our body’s immune response has critical implications for a range of chronic noncommunicable diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. In a new review paper, published February 9, 2017, in the journal Nature, Gökhan S. Hotamisligil, J.S. Simmons Professor of Genetics and Metabolism and chair of the Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases, traces the evolution of this relationship.

The way our bodies regulate and manage energy—our metabolism—and our body’s ability to defend itself against pathogens—the immune response—are closely linked because a strong immune response relies on energy, writes Hotamisligil. But an imbalance in this relationship can put us at risk for chronic metabolic diseases. Hotamisligil writes that there is now an opportunity to translate the increased knowledge about immunometabolism into interventions that one day may reduce the global burden of those diseases.

Work in the Hotamisligil laboratory is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (DK052539, HL125753, AI116901), the JDRF (2SRA-2016-147-Q-R), and sponsored research agreements from Union Chemique Belge and Servier.

Learn more

Targeting fat-tissue hormone may lead to type 2 diabetes treatment (Harvard Chan School news)

Newly identified molecular mechanism plays role in obesity-related type 2 diabetes development (Harvard Chan School news)