Body Fats Fight Back Against Bacterial Infection

Body fats fight back against bacterial infection.

Researchers at the University of Queensland have discovered that fat droplets in our cells help the body’s defense system fight back against the disease during infections.

The study was carried out by an international collaboration between Professor Robert Parton and Professor Matt Sweet, UQ Institute for Molecular Bioscience, and Professor Albert Pol, the University of Barcelona. The researchers discovered that the fat droplets in the body are both a source of food and a weapon against bacterial invaders.

Professor Parton said that previously scientists thought that the lipid droplets are used by bacteria to feed on, but now they have discovered how the droplets of fats are involved in the war between the pathogen and our body cells.

Cells manufacture toxic proteins, and these proteins are packaged into lipid droplets, and when intruders enter our system, these packed droplets are fired to the intruders. Thus fat is part of the arsenal of the cell.

This discovery of the way of cells using fats to protect them and using it as a covert weapon provides new insights into ways of fighting infection.

This discovery will be useful to researchers working on alternative ways to

fight infections as there is a rise in the antibody-resistant superbugs.

Ramping up the natural defenses of the body is one possibility.

Professor Sweet said that their study shows that upon the infection of the white blood cells (called macrophages), lipid droplets relocate to the part of macrophages where the bacteria are present.

Upon bacterial infections, the way white blood cells use energy, changes.

Professor Sweet said that in the mitochondria when there isn’t enough of other nutrient, lipid droplets can be used as a fuel source for the organelle.

In the case of an infection in the cell, the lipid droplets distance itself from the mitochondria and attack the bacteria, which alters the metabolism of the cell.

This phenomenon was seen in fruit flies, and it inspired cell biologist Professor Parton to continue this research. He said that lipid droplets were thought to be ‘blobs of fat’ by most people, which is generally useful for the storage of energy, but their role as metabolic switches in the cell is discovered which defend against infections and much more–and this has drawn the attention of scientific researchers to work on them.

The next step of the study is to find out the mechanism behind lipid droplets targeting the bacteria.

Knowing the body’s natural defenses will help develop new therapies independent of antibiotics to fight against drug-resistant infections.


Body fats fight back against bacterial infection.


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