BACKGROUND: Obesity can be linked to disease risks such as diabetes and cardiovascular disorders, but recently, the adipose tissue (AT) macrophage also emerges as actively participating in inflammation and immune function, producing pro- and anti-inflammatory factors. Connections between the AT and chronic lung diseases, like emphysema and asthma and a protective role of adipocyte-derived proteins against acute lung injury were suggested.In this study we addressed the question, whether a diet challenge increases the inflammatory response in the alveolar and the blood compartment in response to carbon nanoparticles (CNP), as a surrogate for ambient/urban particulate air pollutants METHODS: Mice were fed a high caloric carbohydrate-rich (CA) or a fat-rich (HF) diet for six weeks and were compared to mice kept on a purified low fat (LF) diet, respectively. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and blood samples were taken 24 h after intratracheal CNP instillation and checked for cellular and molecular markers of inflammation. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: The high caloric diets resulted in distinct effects when compared with LF mice, respectively: CA resulted in increased body and fat mass without affecting blood cellular immunity. Conversely, HF activated the blood system, increasing lymphocyte and neutrophil counts, and resulted in slightly increased body fat content. In contrast to higher pro-inflammatory BAL Leptin in CA and HF mice, on a cellular level, both diets did not lead to an increased pro-inflammatory basal status in the alveolar compartment per se, nor did result in differences in the particle-triggered response. However both diets resulted in a disturbance of the alveolar capillary barrier as indicated by enhanced BAL protein and lactate-dehydrogenase concentrations. Systemically, reduced serum Adiponectin in HF mice might be related to the observed white blood cell increase. CONCLUSION: The increase in BAL pro-inflammatory factors in high caloric groups and reductions in serum concentrations of anti-inflammatory factors in HF mice, clearly show diet-specific effects, pointing towards augmented systemic inflammatory conditions. Our data suggest that extended feeding periods, leading to manifest obesity, are necessary to generate an increased susceptibility to particle-induced lung inflammation; although the diet-challenge already was efficient in driving pro-inflammatory systemic events.