NOV 28, 2022 8:15 AM PST

New Insights Into How Fats Can Affect Immunity

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Immunity is closely linked to metabolism, and in recent years, scientists have found that fat molecules, or lipids, can have a significant impact on how immune cells called macrophages are activated. Macrophages are on the front lines of our immune system, patrolling the body for invaders and responding to them when they're identified. While lipids are known to provide energy and have other functions in the body, they also play a central role in gene expression and signaling in macrophages. The disruption of lipid metabolism in macrophages has been linked to issues like obesity, cancer, and atherosclerosis.

Image credit: Pixabay

When macrophages are activated, lipid metabolism within those activated cells is altered. Viral infection, for example, changes how lipids are metabolized in macrophages. The opposite is also true; when lipid metabolism is altered in macrophages, it changes how the immune cells regulate inflammation.
An antigen presenting molecule known as CD1d can bind to natural killer T cells, and also presents lipid antigens to those cells. Changes in CD1d levels have been associated with several autoimmune diseases, and it's thought that CD1d expression must be carefully regulated.

A new study has shown that CD1d links innate immunity and lipid metabolism. When researchers removed Cd1d from macrophages, there was an increase in the release of inflammatory molecules called cytokines. Two important signaling pathways (MAP-Kinase and NF-kB) were also upregulated, making these cells hyper-responsive.

A disruption of lipid metabolism was found to be driving those changes. When the researchers analyzed gene expression in the macrophages lacking CD1d, they found that there was a downregulation of pathways related to lipid metabolism. The researchers also found that lipid imports to the cells were increasing; metabolism in the cell was shifting from lipid synthesis to lipid import.

The findings have been reported in Nature Communications.

"Our paper identifies novel mechanisms underpinning the activation of immune cells, by providing a direct link between lipid pathways and immune cell activation. Our data suggest that manipulation of lipid pathways could represent a therapeutic target to improve immune responses in a variety of diseases," said study leader Dr. Patricia Barral of King's College London.

Sources: Kings College London, Nature Communications

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
NOV 11, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
The development of a thermostable vaccine for tuberculosis
The development of a thermostable vaccine for tuberculosis
Tuberculosis is the deadliest infectious disease worldwide (prior to, and aside from COVID-19 infections). Acc ...
DEC 08, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
Circulating Tumor Cells Effectively Inform Treatment Decisions in Patients with Metastatic Breast Cancer
Circulating Tumor Cells Effectively Inform Treatment Decisions in Patients with Metastatic Breast Cancer
Circulating tumor cells are tumor cells found circulating in the blood that come from a primary tumor. Circulating tumor ...
DEC 15, 2022
Immunology
Alzheimer's Disease is Linked to Immune Dysregulation in CSF
Alzheimer's Disease is Linked to Immune Dysregulation in CSF
For many years, scientists have searched for the cause of Alzheimer's disease. While a lot of research attention foc ...
DEC 28, 2022
Immunology
Shedding LIGHT on the Mechanisms Underlying Severe Asthma
Shedding LIGHT on the Mechanisms Underlying Severe Asthma
Scientists have discovered that an inflammatory cytokine known as LIGHT is a major factor in the deadly airway damage th ...
JAN 02, 2023
Microbiology
Ongoing Disease Outbreaks: Cholera in Africa & Measles in Ohio, India
Ongoing Disease Outbreaks: Cholera in Africa & Measles in Ohio, India
While it has gotten competition from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, measles is known as one of the most inf ...
JAN 19, 2023
Drug Discovery & Development
Introducing TruCytes™: The Ready-to-Use Immunophenotyping Control for Cell Therapy, Flow Cytometry and Beyond
Introducing TruCytes™: The Ready-to-Use Immunophenotyping Control for Cell Therapy, Flow Cytometry and Beyond
Are you a cell biologist, immunologist, or flow cytometrist? If so, you know how challenging it is to find quality contr ...
Loading Comments...