The immunology of obesity

Press Release - Cell source matters for in vitro bone growth, Independent support for sea-level rise projections, Noble clues to interaction between carbon and groundwater, Suppressor immune cells: friends or foes? and Light on heavy electrons


For papers that will be published online on 26 July 2009

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This press release contains:

· Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Materials: Cell source matters for in vitro bone growth

Medicine: The immunology of obesity

Geoscience: Independent support for sea-level rise projections

Geoscience: Noble clues to interaction between carbon and groundwater

Immunology: Suppressor immune cells: friends or foes?

Physics: Light on heavy electrons

· Mention of papers to be published at the same time with the same embargo

· Geographical listing of authors

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[1] Materials: Cell source matters for in vitro bone growth
DOI: 10.1038/nmat2505

The type of cell used to grow bone for tissue replacement in the lab makes a difference to the properties of the resulting material, researchers report online this week in Nature Materials. The finding highlights for the first time the need to also consider the source of cells when creating replacement tissues.

Laboratory-grown, implantable, cell-seeded materials that can be used to restore function are a major aim of regenerative medicine. Molly Stevens and colleagues show that the source of cells used to create those constructs needs to be carefully and systematically chosen to ensure therapeutic benefit.

The researchers grow bone from osteoblasts, adult stem cells, or embryonic stem cells, and show that the bone nodules that form from both osteoblasts and adult stem cells are consistent with native bone in terms of mineral composition, nanoscale architecture and gene expression. However, the bone grown from embryonic stem cells is more similar to mechanically compromised aged native bone than to healthy tissue.

Author contact:
Molly Stevens (Imperial College London, UK)
Tel: +44 207 594 6804; E-mail: [email protected]

[2], [3], [4] & [5] Medicine: The immunology of obesity
DOI: 10.1038/nm.1964
DOI: 10.1038/nm.2001
DOI: 10.1038/nm.2002
DOI: 10.1038/nm.1994

The potential mechanism by which chronic, mild inflammation of fat tissue in obese patients promotes the onset of diabetes, is reported in a series of studies published online in this week’s Nature Medicine.

In the first three studies, Satoshi Nishimura, Michael Dosch, Diane Mathis and their colleagues independently found that the presence of different populations of T cells is associated with insulin resistance as well as other metabolic disturbances seen in obese mice. In the fourth paper, Guo-Ping Shi and his colleagues established that mast cells – immune cells commonly involved in allergic responses – are similarly involved in obesity-related inflammatory responses.

Crucially, the four studies present evidence that targeting each of these different populations of immune cells reversed or prevented the metabolic dysfunction of the obese mice. These results raise the possibility of eventually treating metabolic disease with immunotherapy.

Author contacts:
Satoshi Nishimura (The University of Tokyo, Japan) Author paper [2]
Tel: +81 3 3815 5411; E-mail: [email protected]

Michael Dosch (Hospital For Sick Children, Toronto, Canada) Author paper [3]
Tel: +1 416 813 6260; E-mail: [email protected]

Diane Mathis (Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA USA) Author paper [4]
Tel: +1 617 432 7742; E-mail: [email protected]

Guo-Ping Shi (Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA) Author paper [5]
Tel: +1 617 525 4358; E-mail: [email protected]

[6] Geoscience: Independent support for sea-level rise projections
DOI: 10.1038/ngeo587

A new model based on past sea-level changes suggests that sea level will rise between 7 and 82 cm by the end of the twenty-first century in response to rising temperatures. This estimate, published online in Nature Geoscience, is in line with projections from the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Mark Siddall and colleagues developed a sea-level model that is based on the sea-level response to global average temperature changes that occurred over the past 22,000 years. This approach is very different from the more complex models used for the IPCC reports, but both converge on similar values of sea-level rise — the IPCC’s latest report gave values between 18 and 59 cm — in response to the projected 1 to 6ºC warming. This independent modelling effort therefore increases confidence in the IPCC estimates.

Author contact:
Mark Siddall (Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, New York, NY, USA)
Tel: +44 117 331 5014; E-mail: [email protected]

[7] Geoscience: Noble clues to interaction between carbon and groundwater
DOI: 10.1038/ngeo588

Groundwater is key to the storage of carbon dioxide in aquifers and gas fields, and to the formation of many hydrocarbon deposits like crude oil, according to an overview published online in Nature Geoscience. Societies are generally dependent on fossil-fuel energy sources, but their use has also resulted in the rise of climate-altering atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.

Barbara Sherwood Lollar and Christopher Ballentine reviewed the use of noble gases — including neon and argon — as tracers for the movement and cycling of carbon dioxide in groundwater systems. Their review showed that groundwater stores much of the carbon dioxide that enters the aquifer. Groundwater was also seen to transport hydrocarbons to underground ‘traps’, where they can be more easily recovered by drilling. However, groundwater can also degrade existing reservoirs.

They conclude that noble gases could be used to monitor any leakage of human-created carbon dioxide that has been removed from the atmosphere and stored in aquifers or oil and gas fields.

Author contacts:
Barbara Sherwood Lollar (University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Tel: +1 416 978 0770; E-mail: [email protected]

Christopher Ballentine (University of Manchester, UK)
Tel: +44 161 275 3832; E-mail: [email protected]

[8] Immunology: Suppressor immune cells: friends or foes?
DOI: 10.1038/ni.1774

Regulatory T (Treg) cells, which are essential to prevent catastrophic autoimmunity in mice and humans, can in some cases convert into inflammatory T cells capable of exacerbating autoimmunity. The findings, published online this week in Nature Immunology, lengthen the known list of immune cell types that are capable of promoting autoimmune disease.

The intracellular protein Foxp3 is essential for Treg cell development and function. Jeff Bluestone and co-workers found that, especially in inflamed tissues undergoing autoimmune attack, Treg cells can lose Foxp3 expression.

The resulting ‘exFoxp3’ cells released pro-inflammatory mediators and could trigger autoimmune type 1 diabetes.

Author contact:
Jeff Bluestone (University of California at San Francisco, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 415 514 1683; E-mail: [email protected]

[9] Physics: Light on heavy electrons
DOI: 10.1038/nphys1361

Photons have revealed the heavy electrons that are behind the transition to the so-called 'hidden order' phase in the superconductor URu2Si2, researchers report online this week in Nature Physics. Although the microscopic nature of the hidden-order phase remains unknown, the experiment will help guide future studies of this enigma.

For nearly 25 years, the low-temperature phase of URu2Si2 has been a mystery. Although many other uranium-based superconductors contain heavy electrons, there has not been any direct evidence for heavy electrons in URu2Si2. Santander-Syro and colleagues use spectroscopic techniques to show that they exist and that they take part in the hidden-order change of state.

At the point which this phase change occurs, the Fermi surface separating the filled and unfilled electron states that define the properties of a given solid undergoes instability. The team detected a band of heavy-electron states above the transition, which then migrates into the hidden-order state, where the electrons develop a gap in their excitation energy. None of the present theories on hidden order have predicted this kind of behaviour.

Author contact:
Andrés Santander-Syro (Université Paris-Sud and CNRS, Orsay, France)
Tel: +33 1 40 79 44 90; E-mail: [email protected]

Items from other Nature journals to be published online at the same time and with the same embargo:

Nature (

[10] Multiple roles for MRE11 at uncapped telomeres
DOI: 10.1038/nature08196

[11] Intrinsic light response of retinal horizontal cells of teleosts
DOI: 10.1038/nature08175

[12] Programming cells by multiplex genome engineering and accelerated evolution
DOI: 10.1038/nature08187

[13] Homotypic fusion of ER membranes requires the dynamin-like GTPase Atlastin
DOI: 10.1038/nature08280


[14] Stabilized gene duplication enables long-term selection-free heterologous pathway expression
DOI: 10.1038/nbt.1555


[15] MicroRNA MiR-17 retards tissue growth and represses fibronectin expression
DOI: 10.1038/ncb1917


[16] Inhibition of a viral enzyme by a small-molecule dimer disruptor
DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.192


[17] H3.3/H2A.Z double variant-containing nucleosomes mark 'nucleosome-free regions' of active promoters and other regulatory regions in the human genome
DOI: 10.1038/ng.409

[18] A transposon-based chromosomal engineering method to survey a large cis-regulatory landscape in the mouse genome
DOI: 10.1038/ng.397


[19] Tectonic evolution of the Salton Sea inferred from seismic reflection data
DOI: 10.1038/ngeo590

[20] Methane-derived hydrocarbons produced under upper-mantle conditions
DOI: 10.1038/ngeo591


[21] Atomic diffusion studied with coherent X-rays
DOI: 10.1038/nmat2506


[22] The Twin Spot Generator for differential Drosophila lineage analysis
DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1349

[23] G-TRACE: rapid Gal4-based cell lineage analysis in Drosophila
DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1356


[24] Optical nanocystallography with tip-enhanced phonon Raman spectroscopy
DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2009.190

[25] Controlled ripple texturing of suspended graphene and ultrathin graphite membranes
DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2009.191

[26] Damping of acoustic vibrations in gold nanoparticles
DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2009.192

[27] Plasmonic fluorescent quantum dots
DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2009.193


[28] Ca2+ and calmodulin initiate all forms of endocytosis during depolarization at a nerve terminal
DOI: 10.1038/nn.2355

[29] Distinct contributions of Nav1.6 and Nav1.2 in action potential initiation and backpropagation
DOI: 10.1038/nn.2359

[30] Genesis of cerebellar interneurons and the prevention of neural DNA damage require XRCC1.
DOI: 10.1038/nn.2375


[31] Static and dynamic wavelength routing via the gradient optical force
DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2009.137

Nature PHYSICS (

[32] Electronic correlations in the iron pnictides
DOI: 10.1038/nphys1343

[33] Turning solid aluminium transparent by intense soft X-ray photoionization
DOI: 10.1038/nphys1341

[34] The nature of localization in graphene under quantum Hall conditions
DOI: 10.1038/nphys1344


[35] Multiple functions of MRN in end-joining pathways during isotype class switching
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.1639

[36] Role of mammalian Mre11 in classical and alternative nonhomologous end joining
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.1640

[37] Role of Mre11 in chromosomal nonhomologous end joining in mammalian cells
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.1641


The following list of places refers to the whereabouts of authors on the papers numbered in this release. The listing may be for an author's main affiliation, or for a place where they are working temporarily. Please see the PDF of the paper for full details.

Brisbane: 13
Melbourne: 26

Vienna: 21

London: 15
Toronto: 3, 7, 15

Shanghai: 29
Shenzhen: 15
Sichuan: 10

Prague: 33

Cairo: 30

Fontenay-aux-Roses: 37
Gif-sur-Yvette: 33
Grenoble: 9, 22
Orsay: 9
Paris: 5, 9, 33
Pessac: 26

Berlin: 21
Hamburg: 21, 33
Jena: 33
Karlsruhe: 9
Rostock: 33
Stuttgart: 34
Wurzburg: 9

Rehovot: 34

Conegliano: 13
Naples: 4
Padova: 13
Santa Maria Imbaro: 13

Kanagawa: 18
Kawaguchi: 2
Osaka: 18
Tokyo: 2
Yamagata: 11

Nieuwegein: 33

Kohat: 33

Warsaw: 33

Lisbon: 33

Moscow: 20

Kosice: 33

Barcelona: 4, 8

Stockholm: 20

Bern: 6

Belfast: 33
Brighton: 30
Bristol: 6
Cambridge: 1
London: 1
Manchester: 7
Oxford: 33


Glendale: 23

Berkeley: 33
La Jolla: 19, 32
Livermore: 33
Los Angeles: 13, 23
Menlo Park: 33
Palo Alto: 3
Pasadena: 31
Riverside: 25
San Francisco: 5, 8, 16

Aurora: 8

Farmington: 15

District of Columbia
Washington: 17, 20

Atlanta: 12

Argonne: 26
Chicago: 26

Iowa City: 22

Brunswick: 22

Baltimore: 11
Bethesda: 11, 17, 28

Boston: 4, 5, 12, 22, 36
Cambridge: 4, 12, 14, 26, 34

Ann Arbor: 10, 35

Austin: 10

New York
New York: 22, 37
Palisades: 6
Stony Brook: 24
Upton: 24

Corvallis: 6

Memphis: 16, 30
Oak Ridge: 32

Houston: 10, 13, 28

West Valley City: 19

Seattle: 22, 24, 27


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Tel: +44 20 7843 4658; E-mail: [email protected]

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Nature Chemical Biology (Boston)
Andrea Garvey
Tel: +1 617 475 9241, E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Genetics (New York)
Myles Axton
Tel: +1 212 726 9324; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Geoscience (London)
Heike Langenberg
Tel: +44 20 7843 4042; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Immunology (New York)
Laurie Dempsey
Tel: +1 212 726 9372; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Materials (London)
Vincent Dusastre
Tel: +44 20 7843 4531; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Medicine (New York)
Juan Carlos Lopez
Tel: +1 212 726 9325; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Methods (New York)
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Nature Neuroscience (New York)
Kalyani Narasimhan
Tel: +1 212 726 9319; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Photonics (Tokyo)
Oliver Graydon
Tel: +81 3 3267 8776; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Physics (London)
Alison Wright
Tel: +44 20 7843 4555; E-mail: [email protected]

Nature Structural & Molecular Biology (New York)
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Tel: +1 212 726 9326; E-mail: [email protected]

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Published: 26 Jul 2009

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