Fat cell2 in our bodies might be one of our greatest allies. Study shows that fat cells under the skin have a main role in protecting us against bacterial infections, such as Staphylococcus Aureus, by releasing a substance that harms invasive microbes.
Professor Richard Gallo and his colleagues, at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, have potentially discovered an important role of our fatty tissues, known as adipocytes. According to the study, these fat cells produce a substance called cathelicidin, a peptide which attacks invading bacteria.
Scientist thought that the moment the skin is invaded, white cells are the ones taking charge of protecting the body. But in case of a wound, white cells wouldn’t arrive immediately at the spot. The fat stem cells would surround the place and produce antimicrobial antibodies. A discovery which totally surprised the scientists, so they were curious to know what role would these cells play in an infection with Staphylococcus Aureus in the fat layer of the skin.
There are cases when staph infections become very wide spread and are resistant to antibiotic treatment. The bacteria is found in every human’s body, from skin to noses, but remains inactive until something triggers it. If entering the blood stream, bones or vital organs it becomes a very dangerous matter.
The first author of the study, Dr. Ling-Juan Zhang injected mice in the skin with the staph. Aureus bacteria. In a matter of hours she discovered that the location of infection had been surrounded by bigger and more numerous fat cells. The adipocytes cells produced a peptide antimicrobial substance, called cathelicidin, known to attack viruses.
The results were compared with another experiment on mice who had been genetically modified to not hold fat. On them, the infection with the same bacteria developed worse.
Continuing tests confirmed that the human fat cells also produce cathelicidin, which means that the immune response to infections could be similar to mice.
Though, researchers mentioned that this doesn’t mean that the more the fat the more protected we are, but this discovery will lead to greater things in the medical world.
“Conversely, these findings may help researchers understand disease associations with obesity and develop new strategies to optimize care,” said professor Gallo.
Image Source: IFLMedicine
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