Role of obesity in modulating the immune system
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INTRODUCTION: Diet induced obesity (DIO) is a major driving force responsible for low-grade inflammation mediated immune system decline. Impaired immune defenses lead to a number of chronic diseases and ultimately to an increased mortality. DISCUSSION: Over half a billion people worldwide are considered overweight or obese. It has been estimated that $190 billion dollars was spent in the US on obesity-related healthcare costs just in 2005. Lower productivity, lost wages, higher insurance costs, and an increased strain on the healthcare system as a whole, are the hallmarks of the obesity epidemic. Considerable body of epidemiologic evidence implicates DIO as the major cause of numerous pathologies. The obese population doesn't just suffer increased mortality from chronic conditions such as, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary diseases, Type 2 diabetes, various cancers, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), renal failure, osteoarthritis and many other slow-onset diseases. Obese individuals also have increased mortality for more acute conditions such as N1H1 influenza virus, allergic diseases, and post-surgical complications while also lowering the efficacy for vaccinations and Helicobacter pylori eradication therapies. Today scientists recognize adipose tissue as the largest endocrine organ in the human body, releasing a myriad of paracrine and endocrine molecular factors. During DIO these adipocytokines induce a proinflammatory switch in the adipose tissue machinery, initiating chronic low-grade inflammation. Sensing an ongoing attack the immune system responds trying to maintain homeostasis. DIO however, initiates a positive feedback loop, which perpetuates inflammation and further decimates immune system's capacity to resist threats and to restore order. CONCLUSION: While the basic obesity-inflammation-disease road map has been outlined, many questions remain. Multiple areas of immunometabolism and meta inflammation require deeper understanding, but two key recommendations for future studies stand out. First, since it is easier to prevent obesity than to reverse it, attention should be focused on elucidating the endocrine role of foodstuff. Second, to find cures for chronic conditions of the ever growing obese population, scientists must elucidate the mechanism of obesity-induced inflammation's function in diminishing immune system's capacity.