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Date of publication:2020/11/6 16:04:35
Last month, a study published in the journal Science and conducted by researchers from IDIBAPS, the UB and the Spanish National Center of Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) discovered a new immune defense mechanism that is unknown so far. It is a mechanism orchestrated by lipid droplets (LDs), the cellular organelles can attract and eliminate invading pathogens.
LDs are the organelles where our cells accumulate nutrients in the form of fat, provide them with the necessary energy to develop their function. For example, LDs provide energy for the heart to beat, the liver to perform its metabolic function, or muscle movement. Lipid droplets are like the pantry of our cells, where we accumulate food that we will use in the future. This happens in all eukaryotic cells, from yeasts or insects to plants or mammals.


When viruses or bacteria infect host cells, they need lots of nutrients to reproduce and to get them to reach the LD. In a study published in Science, researchers showed that DLs respond to infection by organizing a complex of antibiotics and antiviral proteins, which act synergistically to fight and eliminate pathogens. It is a mechanism that acts on all cells of the human body, not just professional cells of the immune system, such as macrophages. This defense strategy has also been observed in insects, indicating its importance in the evolution of our innate immunity.

Researchers have shown that cells are placing large number of LDs with antibiotics and antiviral proteins to protect themselves from infection. By comparing the surface area of DL in normal cells and infected cells, a total of 400 candidate cells were identified for LDs protection in contact with pathogens. In this study, researchers focused on six of these proteins and showed that they can protect cells from different types of bacterial infection.

Concentrating these antibiotics and antiviral proteins in a single compartment inside the cell can not only produce a synergistic effect, but also reduce their toxicity and allow other parts of the cell to function normally.

Furthermore, the study showed that this strategy produced a broad-spectrum response, that’s to say, there were many antibiotics and antiviral drugs with different mechanisms of action. It also allowed the generation of cooperative mechanisms to attack the infection. There were synergies between proteins, or example, one destroyed the membrane of the pathogen and the other destroyed its genomic material.

This study represents a paradigm shift, because until now, it was thought that LDs would serve viruses or bacteria during infection. Given the widespread resistance to current antibiotics, this research had deciphered an important defense mechanism that could be used to develop new therapeutic strategies to prevent infection.

Huateng Pharma is a leading APIs and intermediates manufacturer in China, it has its own manufacturing base which equipped with more than 800 sets of state-of-the-art facilities and management systems based on the general trend of intelligent manufacturing. Huateng Pharma supplies anti-viral intermediates such as oseltamivir intermediates, remdesivir intermediates, favipiravir impurities and baloxavir marboxil intermediates, etc.  

Mammalian lipid droplets are innate immune hubs integrating cell metabolism and host defense