A new research from the University of California, San Diego Medical School has shown that fat cells (adipocytes) also contribute to the body’s defence against pathogens.
Over the years, we have learned that vascular tissue below the skin helps infiltrating white blood cells kill invading pathogens. Now, skin adipocytes is linked to the body’s defence against pathogens.
The research has found that when pathogens enter the dermal layers (through a cut or abrasion), it signals the body to make the area’s vascular network more “leaky”. It enables infiltration of neutrophils, macrophages, and other white blood cells to the area of infection, causing inflammation. As a result, the white blood cells release their own suite of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and engulf the pathogen to prevent further infection.
Cathelicidin, one of these AMPs, was discovered in neutrophils first but is also present in lysosomes of macrophages and polymorphonuclear leukocytes, and is used to help kill ingested pathogens. The researchers have now added adipocytes to the list of cells that produce the highly conserved family of cathelicidin peptides.
If one is of a healthy weight, the ability of adipocytes help fight off infections. In-vitro studies of human adipocytes also demonstrated the ability of these fat cells to produce cathelicidins, paving the way for future clinical experiments.
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