Functional loss of inactive rhomboid-like protein 2 mitigates obesity by suppressing pro-inflammatory macrophage activation-triggered adipose inflammation

Minxuan Xu, Chenxu Ge, Yuting Qin, Deshuai Lou, Qiang Li, Jing Feng, Yekuan Wu, Linfeng Hu, Bochu Wang, Jun Tan

Objective: Chronic inflammation of adipose tissues contributes to obesity-triggered insulin resistance. Unfortunately, the potential molecular mechanisms regarding obesity-associated systemic inflammation and metabolic disorder remain complicated. Here, we report that inactive rhomboid-like protein 2 (iRhom2) was increased in overweight mice with adipose inflammation.

Methods: Mice with deletion of iRhom2 on a C57BL/6J background, mice without deletion of this gene (controls), and mice with deficiency of iRhom2 only in myeloid cells were fed a standard chow diet (SCD) or a high-fat diet (HFD; 60% fat calories). Then the adipose tissues or bone marrow cells were isolated for the further detection.

Results: After 16 weeks on a high-fat diet (HFD), obesity, chronic inflammation in adipose tissues, and insulin resistance were markedly mitigated in iRhom2 knockout (iRhom2 KO) mice, whereas these parameters were exaggerated in iRhom2 overactivated mice. The adverse influences of iRhom2 on adipose inflammation and associated pathologies were determined in db/db mice. We further demonstrated that, in response to an HFD, iRhom2 KO mice and mice with deletion only in the myeloid cells showed less severe adipose inflammation and insulin resistance than control groups. Conversely, transplantation of bone marrow cells from normal mice to iRhom2 KO mice unleashed severe systemic inflammation and metabolic dysfunction after HFD ingestion.

Conclusion: We identified iRhom2 as a key regulator that promotes obesity-associated metabolic disorders. Loss of iRhom2 from macrophages in adipose tissues may indirectly restrain inflammation and insulin resistance via blocking crosslinks between macrophages and adipocytes. Hence, iRhom2 may be a therapeutic target for obesity-induced metabolic dysfunction.