The crosstalk between macrophages (MΦ) and adipocytes within white adipose tissue (WAT) impacts obesity-associated insulin resistance and other associated metabolic disorders, such as atherosclerosis, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. MΦ infiltration is increased in WAT during obesity, which is linked to decreased mitochondrial content and activity. The mechanistic interplay between MΦ and mitochondrial function of adipocytes is under intense investigation, as MΦ and inflammatory pathways exhibit a pivotal role in the reprogramming of WAT metabolism in physiological responses during cold, fasting and exercise. Thus, the underlying immunometabolic pathways may offer therapeutic targets to correct obesity and metabolic disease. Here, I review the current knowledge on the quantity and the quality of human adipose tissue macrophages (ATMΦ) and their impact on the bioenergetics of human adipocytes. The effects of ATMΦ and their secreted factors on mitochondrial function of white adipocytes are discussed, including recent research on MΦ as part of an immune signaling cascade involved in the 'browning' of WAT, which is defined as the conversion from white, energy-storing adipocytes into brown, energy-dissipating adipocytes.
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