Obesity decreases B cell responses in young and elderly individuals

Daniela Frasca, Franco Ferracci, Alain Diaz, Maria Romero, Suzanne Lechner, Bonnie B. Blomberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Objective To evaluate the effects of obesity-associated inflammation on influenza vaccine responses. Methods In young and elderly individuals, both lean and with obesity, antibody responses to influenza vaccination were measured. Results A decrease in in vivo vaccine responses, circulating switched memory, and transitional B cells and an increase in pro-inflammatory late/exhausted memory B cells were found. In vitro B cell function was measured by activation-induced cytidine deaminase and E47, markers of optimal antibody responses. Moreover, IL-6 production was increased, whereas IL-10 production was decreased in cultures of B cells from individuals with obesity. Markers of immune activation (TNF-α, TLR4, micro-RNAs) in unstimulated B cells were also found increased and were negatively correlated with B cell function. In order to reveal potential mechanisms, we stimulated B cells from lean individuals in vitro with leptin, the adipokine increased in obesity. Leptin increased phospho-STAT3, crucial for TNF-α production, and decreased phospho-AMPK, the energy sensing enzyme upstream of phospho-p38 MAPK and E47. Leptin-induced phospho-STAT3 and phospho-AMPK levels were similar to those in B cells from individuals with obesity. Conclusions These results demonstrate that leptin can be responsible for decreased B cell function in obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-625
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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