Research

          Welcome to the website for the research laboratory of Dr. Alyssa Hasty. We study how obesity impacts health. The growing worldwide obesity epidemic is frequently linked to hyperlipidemia, inflammation, and insulin resistance leading to increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The long-term goal of our laboratory is to determine mechanisms by which obesity increases risk for and pathophysiological consequences of these devastating diseases. Macrophages are part of the innate immune system that infiltrate white adipose tissue (fat) in obese rodents and humans, and produce most of the inflammatory cytokines and chemokines secreted from adipose tissue. In addition, their presence has been shown to be temporally associated with the development of insulin resistance. Our current research focus is threefold: to determine mechanisms by which macrophages accumulate in adipose tissue, to determine the role of resident macrophages in normal adipose tissue function, and to determine how other immune cells like eosinophils also contribute to adipose tissue function.

Macrophage Iron Metabolism:

Not much is known about the role of adipose tissue macrophages in tissue homeostasis.  Our recent data suggests that resident M2-like macrophages may play a role in iron metabolism in fat.  These exciting findings have opened up a new area of research for our group to assess the impact of macrophage iron handling on adipose tissue homeostasis.

Adipose Macrophage Turnover:

We have growing evidence that even in lean adipose tissue the macrophages undergo apoptotic cell death. We would like to understand how the natural turnover of macrophages contributes to the overall numbers of cells in lean and obese adipose tissue. We hypothesize that this turnover may be impaired in obesity and contribute to the accumulation of macrophages in obese adipose tissue.

Other immune cells in adipose tissue:

Many laboratories have shown the presence of other immune cells such as eosinophils, neutrophils, dendritic cells, T cells, B cells in adipose tissue.  We are particularly interested in the role of eosinophils in adipose tissue homeostasis.  We are also interested in the role of T cells in adipose tissue dysfunction seen with weight cycling.