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How fat protects the body from infection

When you hear about fat, for sure ityou associate with a number of health problems. First of all, with obesity and many related problems, such as diabetes, atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases. However, few people think that the body cannot exist without fat, since cells cannot exist without it, since it forms cell membranes, that is, the cell membrane. In addition, fat provides the body with energy. Moreover, in some situations it cannot be replaced by any other. Brown fat is essential for normal brain function. But, as it turned out, this does not end with its positive properties of fat. According to scientists at the University of East Anglia, fat plays an important role in the body's immune response, that is, its defense against viruses. According to the team of researchers, the discovery they made in the future may help treat infections in people with poor immunity, for example, the elderly.

Fat plays an important role in the body's immune defense against viruses

How the immune system uses fat to fight infections

A team of scientists studied salmonella, a dangerousan infection that causes a number of symptoms typical of poisoning such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, sepsis, etc. In particular, the researchers were interested in the immune response to salmonella, which occurs in the body of mice.

As a result, the authors of the work published inIn the journal Nature Communications, it was possible to identify an interesting mechanism of how hematopoietic blood stem cells, which are located in the marrow, respond to infection. They are also called hematopoietic cells. They are responsible for the creation of all blood cells, including immune cells, that protect the body from infections.

Fat cells carry the energy needed for the immune system

When mice got infectedsalmonella, stem cells began to divide more actively to create immune cells. Fat plays a key role in this process. When adipose tissue cells sense the presence of an infection, they begin to actively release fatty acids into the bloodstream. At the same time, they are captured by stem cells, which use fatty acids in the same way as the rest of the body - they extract energy from them.

Research has shown that fat cellswork in sync with the immune system, or rather - to some extent are part of it. Hematopoietic cells need energy to create millions of white blood cells. When the level rises in the blood, the body will successfully fight off the infection.

“Our work provides insight into how the blood, and together with the immune system, responds to infection,” says Dr. Stuart Rushworth, one of the authors of the study.

As the authors of the work explain, the fight against infectionrequires a huge amount of energy. At the same time, fat stores serve as an effective fuel for blood stem cells, which provide a powerful immune response. The researchers were also able to figure out how the mechanism by which fatty acids provide stem cells in the inert brain with energy works.

The immune cells destroy bacteria. They must be present in the body in large quantities in order to successfully fight infection.

How fat provides energy to stem cells

In their article, the team describes in detailthe cellular mechanism that delivers fatty acids to the mitochondria. Let me remind you that mitochondria are organelles that are responsible for biochemical reactions in cells, as a result of which fat is converted into clean energy. The last cells can be used for one or another of their tasks.

For stem cells after infectionIt is extremely important for the body that mitochondria begin to work in the mode of breaking down fatty acids. Without the energy received from them, they are not able to quickly share. As a result, the study showed that when the stem cells of the mice did not receive enough fat, the animals died because they could not fight the salmonella.

Salmonella virus killed rodents if their stem cells didn't get enough fatty acids

“In the future, I hope our findings will help improve the treatment of vulnerable and elderly people with infections by enhancing their immune response,” says Dr. Stuart Rushworth.

According to scientists, in conditions wherebacterial resistance to antibiotics is becoming an increasingly serious problem for mankind, there is an urgent need to create new ways to help the immune system fight infections. The discovery of the key role of fatty acids in the division of hematopoietic cells will help create new therapeutic agents in the future.

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I must say that earlier scientists discoveredanother mechanism of the immune system that also uses fat. According to a study published in the journal Science, lipid droplets carry certain immune proteins in the cytoplasm. That is, they serve as a carrier of immune weapons. But on the other hand, cell fats sometimes, on the contrary, help the virus to infect cells. In particular, this applies to SARS-CoV-2, which I recently talked about.