White and brown adipose tissue functionality is impaired by fine particulate matter (PM2.5) exposure

Lucio Della Guardia, Andrew C. Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Chronic exposure to high levels of particulate matter (PM) is correlated to a higher prevalence of cardio-metabolic disturbances. Adipose tissue represents a pivotal regulator of metabolic homeostasis, and its dysfunction is associated with health issues in PM-exposed models. This review discusses the adaptive changes of white (WAT) and brown (BAT) adipose tissue in response to fine particulate matter (PM2.5), investigating the underlying pathophysiology. In exposed models, PM2.5 increases oxidative stress and impairs mitochondria functionality and biogenesis in WAT and BAT. Chronic exposure also upregulates the main apoptotic/pro-inflammatory pathways and promotes the infiltration of monocytes and the accumulation of activated macrophages. Oxidative stress and inflammation are responsible for the inhibition of insulin signal transduction and glucose uptake in both the adipose tissues. The increased inflammatory status also suppresses the metabolic activity of brown adipocytes, promoting the whitening. Altogether, this evidence suggests the shift of WAT and BAT toward an inflammatory and metabolic dysfunctional phenotype. Although the underlying mechanisms remain to be clarified, the development of inflammation in lungs, gut, and hypothalamus seems to have a pivotal role in the alteration of adipose tissue homeostasis. The potential consequences on systemic cardio-metabolic health render the relationship PM-adipose tissue a key issue to investigate. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)665-676
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Molecular Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Adipocytes
  • Air pollution
  • Inflammation
  • Insulin resistance
  • Macrophages
  • Metabolic diseases


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