Deletion of H-ferritin in macrophages alleviates obesity and diabetes induced by high-fat diet in mice

Yasumasa Ikeda, Hiroaki Watanabe, Tetsuya Shiuchi, Hirofumi Hamano, Yuya Horinouchi, Masaki Imanishi, Mitsuhiro Goda, Yoshito Zamami, Kenshi Takechi, Yuki Izawa-Ishizawa, Licht Miyamoto, Keisuke Ishizawa, Ken ichi Aihara, Koichiro Tsuchiya, Toshiaki Tamaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Aims/hypothesis: Iron accumulation affects obesity and diabetes, both of which are ameliorated by iron reduction. Ferritin, an iron-storage protein, plays a crucial role in iron metabolism. H-ferritin exerts its cytoprotective action by reducing toxicity via its ferroxidase activity. We investigated the role of macrophage H-ferritin in obesity and diabetes. Methods: Conditional macrophage-specific H-ferritin (Fth, also known as Fth1) knockout (LysM-Cre Fth KO) mice were used and divided into four groups: wild-type (WT) and LysM-Cre Fth KO mice with normal diet (ND), and WT and LysM-Cre Fth KO mice with high-fat diet (HFD). These mice were analysed for characteristics of obesity and diabetes, tissue iron content, inflammation, oxidative stress, insulin sensitivity and metabolic measurements. RAW264.7 macrophage cells were used for in vitro experiments. Results: Iron concentration reduced, and mRNA expression of ferroportin increased, in macrophages from LysM-Cre Fth KO mice. HFD-induced obesity was lower in LysM-Cre Fth KO mice than in WT mice at 12 weeks (body weight: KO 34.6 ± 5.6 g vs WT 40.1 ± 5.2 g). mRNA expression of inflammatory cytokines and infiltrated macrophages and oxidative stress increased in the adipose tissue of HFD-fed WT mice, but was not elevated in HFD-fed LysM-Cre Fth KO mice. However, WT mice fed an HFD had elevated iron concentration in adipose tissue and spleen, which was not observed in LysM-Cre Fth KO mice fed an HFD (adipose tissue [μmol Fe/g protein]: KO 1496 ± 479 vs WT 2316 ± 866; spleen [μmol Fe/g protein]: KO 218 ± 54 vs WT 334 ± 83). Moreover, HFD administration impaired both glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in WT mice, which was ameliorated in LysM-Cre Fth KO mice. In addition, energy expenditure, mRNA expression of thermogenic genes, and body temperature were higher in KO mice with HFD than WT mice with HFD. In vitro experiments showed that iron content was reduced, and lipopolysaccharide-induced Tnf-α (also known as Tnf) mRNA upregulation was inhibited in a macrophage cell line transfected with Fth siRNA. Conclusions/interpretation: Deletion of macrophage H-ferritin suppresses the inflammatory response by reducing intracellular iron levels, resulting in the prevention of HFD-induced obesity and diabetes. The findings from this study highlight macrophage iron levels as a potential therapeutic target for obesity and diabetes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1588-1602
Number of pages15
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Diabetes
  • H-ferritin
  • Inflammation
  • Iron
  • Macrophage
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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