Numerous evidence indicates that inflammation in adipose tissue is the primary cause of systemic insulin resistance induced by obesity. Obesity-associated changes in circulating LPS level and hypoxia/HIF-1α activation have been proposed to be involved in boosting obesity-induced inflammation. However, there is poor understanding of what triggers obesity-induced inflammation. In this study, we pinpoint lactate as a key trigger to mediate obesity-induced inflammation and systemic insulin resistance. Specific deletion of Slc16a1 that encodes MCT1, the primary lactate transporter in adipose tissues, robustly elevates blood levels of proinflammatory cytokines and aggravates systemic insulin resistance without alteration of adiposity in mice fed high-fat diet. Slc16a1 deletion in adipocytes elevates intracellular lactate level while reducing circulating lactate concentration. Mechanistically, lactate retention due to Slc16a1 deletion initiates adipocyte apoptosis and cytokine release. The locally recruited macrophages amplify the inflammation by release of proinflammatory cytokines to the circulation, leading to insulin resistance in peripheral tissues. This study, therefore, indicates that lactate within adipocytes has a key biological function linking obesity to insulin resistance, and harnessing lactate in adipocytes can be a promising strategy to break this link.
This article contains supplementary material online at https://doi.org/10.2337/figshare.17837834.