The metabolic syndrome has been demonstrated in gene deficient animals, e.g. db/db mice, to include a systemic inflammation leading to insulin resistance, obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D). To determine the importance of inflammation in obesity and diabetes, in a normal non-genetically modified species, an intervention study with neutralizing anti-IL-20 antibodies was conducted in the spontaneous T2D model Psammomys obesus.
All IL-20 receptor chains were expressed on protein level in the Psammomys obesus. Neutralization of IL-20 did not modulate blood glucose, HbA1c, insulin levels or lymphocyte numbers after five weeks treatment although a trend to reduced weight gain rate was observed upon anti-IL-20 treatment. Inhibition of IL-20 significantly increased the number of CD11bhigh/low cells and the CD11bGr-1int myeloid derived suppressor cells in the spleen. Importantly, although the number of M1-like monocytes remained unchanged the M1-like marker CD11c expression level was reduced on the cells upon anti-IL-20 treatment. Anti-IL-20 treatment reduced both TLR4 and CCR2b expression on the macrophages upon treatment. Further, a marked shift in the protein signature in the pancreatic tissue after anti-IL-20 treatment was observed including enhanced expression of CXCL12, TIMP-1 and IL-10 while IL-1β, CXCL4, PEDF and ADAMTS1 were reduced.
In conclusion, we describe for the first time the systemic immune response in the diabetic Psammomys obesus. Neutralizing IL-20 modulated the myeloid compartment, the adaptive immunity, and local expression of proteins in the diabetic pancreatic tissue as well as improved on weight gain and hence may place IL-20 as a cytokine to be considered in obesity.