Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor–D (VEGF-D) Overexpression and Lymphatic Expansion in Murine Adipose Tissue Improves Metabolism in Obesity

Adri Chakraborty, Sheridan Barajas, Gabriela M. Lammoglia, Andrea J. Reyna, Thomas S. Morley, Joshua A. Johnson, Philipp E. Scherer, Joseph M. Rutkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Obese adipose tissue expansion is an inflammatory process that results in dysregulated lipolysis, increased circulating lipids, ectopic lipid deposition, and systemic insulin resistance. Lymphatic vessels provide a route of fluid, macromolecule, and immune cell clearance, and lymphangiogenesis increases this capability. Indeed, inflammation-associated lymphangiogenesis is critical in resolving acute and chronic inflammation, but it is largely absent in obese adipose tissue. Enhancing adipose tissue lymphangiogenesis could, therefore, improve metabolism in obesity. To test this hypothesis, transgenic mice with doxycycline-inducible expression of murine vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-D under a tightly controlled Tet-On promoter were crossed with adipocyte-specific adiponectin–reverse tetracycline–dependent transactivator mice (Adipo-VD) to stimulate adipose tissue–specific lymphangiogenesis during 16-week high-fat diet–induced obesity. Adipose VEGF-D overexpression induced de novo lymphangiogenesis in murine adipose tissue, and obese Adipo-VD mice exhibited enhanced glucose clearance, lower insulin levels, and reduced liver triglycerides. On β-3 adrenergic stimulation, Adipo-VD mice exhibited more rapid and increased glycerol flux from adipose tissue, suggesting that the lymphatics are a potential route of glycerol clearance. Resident macrophage crown-like structures were scarce and total F4/80 + macrophages were reduced in obese Adipo-VD s.c. adipose tissue with evidence of increased immune trafficking from the tissue. Augmenting VEGF-D signaling and lymphangiogenesis specifically in adipose tissue, therefore, reduces obesity-associated immune accumulation and improves metabolic responsiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)924-939
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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