Obesity is associated with more activated neutrophils in African American male youth

X. Xu, S. Su, X. Wang, Vernon A Barnes, C. De Miguel, Dennis Randall Ownby, J. Pollock, H. Snieder, W. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Background: There is emerging evidence suggesting the role of peripheral blood leukocytes in the pathogenesis of obesity and related diseases. However, few studies have taken a genome-wide approach to investigating gene expression profiles in peripheral leukocytes between obese and lean individuals with the consideration of obesity-related shifts in leukocyte types. Method: We conducted this study in 95 African Americans (AAs) of both genders (age 14-20 years, 46 lean and 49 obese). Complete blood count with differential test (CBC) was performed in whole blood. Genome-wide gene expression analysis was obtained using the Illumina HumanHT-12 V4 Beadchip with RNA extracted from peripheral leukocytes. Out of the 95 participants, 64 had neutrophils stored. The validation study was based on real-time PCR with RNA extracted from purified neutrophils. Results: CBC test suggested that, in males, obesity was associated with increased neutrophil percentage (P=0.03). Genome-wide gene expression analysis showed that, in males, the majority of the most differentially expressed genes were related to neutrophil activation. Validation of the gene expression levels of ELANE (neutrophil elastase) and MPO (myeloperoxidase) in purified neutrophils demonstrated that the expression of these two genes - important biomarkers of neutrophils activation - were significantly elevated in obese males (P=0.01 and P=0.02, respectively). Conclusion: The identification of increased neutrophil percentage and activation in obese AA males suggests that neutrophils have an essential role in the pathogenesis of obesity-related disease. Further functional and mechanistic studies on neutrophils may contribute to the development of novel intervention strategies reducing the burden associated with obesity-related health problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-32
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 10 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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