Prolonged intake of dietary lipids alters membrane structure and T cell responses in LDLr−/− mice
Although it is recognized that lipids and membrane organization in T cells affect signaling and T cell activation, to what extent dietary lipids alter T cell responsiveness in the absence of obesity and inflammation is not known. In this study, we fed low-density lipoprotein receptor knockout mice a Western high-fat diet for 1 or 9 wk and examined T cell responses in vivo along with T cell lipid composition, membrane order, and activation ex vivo. Our data showed that high levels of circulating lipids for a prolonged period elevated CD4+ and CD8+ T cell proliferation and resulted in an increased proportion of CD4+ central-memory T cells within the draining lymph nodes following induction of contact hypersensitivity. In addition, the 9-wk Western high-fat diet elevated the total phospholipid content and monounsaturated fatty acid level, but decreased saturated phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin within the T cells. The altered lipid composition in the circulation, and of T cells, was also reflected by enhanced membrane order at the activation site of ex vivo activated T cells that corresponded to increased IL-2 mRNA levels. In conclusion, dietary lipids can modulate T cell lipid composition and responses in lipoprotein receptor knockout mice even in the absence of excess weight gain and a proinflammatory environment.