B lymphocytes in human subcutaneous adipose crown-like structures

Marie E. McDonnell, Lisa M. Ganley-Leal, Ankeeta Mehta, Sherman J. Bigornia, Melanie Mott, Qasim Rehman, Melissa G. Farb, Donald T. Hess, Lija Joseph, Noyan Gokce, Caroline M. Apovian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Accumulation of macrophages and T cells within crown-like structures (CLS) in subcutaneous adipose tissue predicts disease severity in obesity-related insulin resistance (OIR). Although rodent data suggest the B cell is an important feature of these lesions, B cells have not been described within the human CLS. In order to identify B cells in the human subcutaneous CLS (sCLS) in obese subjects and determine whether the presence of B cells predict insulin resistance, we examined archived samples of subcutaneous and omental fat from 32 obese men and women and related findings to clinical parameters. Using immunohistochemistry, we identified B (CD19 ) and T cells (CD3 ) within the sCLS and perivascular space. The presence and density of B cells (B cells per high-power field (pHPF), T cells pHPF, and B cell:T cell (B:T) ratio) were compared with measures of insulin resistance (homeostasis model assessment (HOMA)) and other variables. In 16 of 32 subjects (50%) CD19 B cells were localized within sCLS and were relatively more numerous than T cells. HOMA was not different between subjects with CD19 vs. CD19 sCLS (5.5 vs. 5.3, P = 0.88). After controlling for diabetes and glycemia (hemoglobin A 1c (HbA 1c)), the B:T ratio correlated with current metformin treatment (r = 0.89, P = 0.001). These results indicate that in human OIR, B cells are an integral component of organized inflammation in subcutaneous fat, and defining their role will lead to a better understanding of OIR pathogenesis and potentially impact treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1372-1378
Number of pages7
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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