Western diet induces inflammation and trained immunity

The latest research by Dr. Anette Christ and Prof. Eicke Latz has shown that a ‘Western Diet’, rich in refined sugars, salt and saturated fat, activates the immune system similarly than a pathogenic infection. Experiments have been mainly performed in a genetically modified mouse model for atherosclerosis – the LDLR-/- mouse.  Even long-term after replacing Western Diet by a healthy diet, cells of the innate immune system showed hyper-responsiveness towards certain stimuli. This phenomenon was caused by a sustained epigenetic and transcriptional reprogramming of bone marrow myeloid precursor cells, termed ’trained immunity’ or ’innate immune memory’, which happened in a NLRP3-dependent manner. The identification of NLRP3 as an insult sensor under conditions of sterile inflammation that triggers an inflammatory state and long-lasting innate immune cell reprogramming will prospectively help to tackle the development of therapies against metabolic and cardiovascular diseases such as type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis.


The results of this study are published in “Cell” and can be downloaded here

Links for further information:

Immunosensation cluster

University of Bonn

Science Alert


A Radio Interview in german with Dr. Anette Christ can be found here

Findings of the paper are discussed in the TV show 'Visite' from the NDR (in german only).