JUL 10, 2016 7:00 PM PDT

Immune System Conserves Energy By Altering Metabolism

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
Many of the intricacies of the immune response during a pathogenic infection are yet to be fully understood. In a new study from the CNIC, researchers solved a bit more of the puzzle by uncovering how macrophages detect live bacteria and cause a domino-effect of reactions that alter mitochondrial metabolism to benefit the power of the immune response.
 Staining of mitochondria in a macrophage stimulated with bacteria.
From the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III (CNIC), in a paper published in Nature Immunology, scientists discovered the organization of the mitochondrial electron transport chain undergoing multiple structural changes in response to macrophages sensing bacteria. Certain compounds like lipopolysaccharides are unique to bacterial cell walls and can alert macrophages and other immune cells of an invader’s presence. What the researchers looked at in the current study was how the detection of bacterial biomarkers also led to changes in mitochondrial metabolism, and how these changes enhanced the immune response.
 
At the heart of mitochondrial metabolism is the electron transport chain (ETC). When a person eats a meal, the sugars and fats the body obtains by breaking it down provide energy for the ETC and its multiprotein complexes. These complexes assume several forms, named by scientists as I, II, III, and IV. Supercomplexes within the ETC provide structural stability and system efficiency, and these groupings also play a large role in metabolic changes during a bacterial invasion.
 
When a macrophage recognizes live bacteria and starts sending signals to the rest of the immune system that there is an intruder, the scientists saw in their studies that there is also a temporary reduction of supercomplexes associated with complex I in the mitochondria of these macrophages, while the respiratory activity is elevated. At the same time, various signaling pathways are activated by oxidative molecules, and then the pathways lead to the regulation of complex II activity. In this situation, complex II then promotes the release of immune signals called cytokines and other metabolites, which boost other parts of the immune response, enhancing the body’s ability to hone in on a bacterial invasion.
 
Scientists from the study believe that bacterial RNA and other unique factors that stimulate the immune system could be a way to learn more about creating more effective vaccines and therapies by improving the redirection of energy from metabolism that allows the immune system to focus on fighting the infection.
 

 
Source: CNIC
 
About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
NOV 11, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Why Arthritis Tends to Affect the Same Joints Repeatedly
NOV 11, 2021
Why Arthritis Tends to Affect the Same Joints Repeatedly
While arthritis may not cause pain all the time, when it flares, it tends to recur in the same joints. This can create s ...
NOV 12, 2021
Health & Medicine
T-Cell Signature Distinguishes COVID-19 Immunity from Other Respiratory Infections
NOV 12, 2021
T-Cell Signature Distinguishes COVID-19 Immunity from Other Respiratory Infections
COVID-19 is a highly studied disease. It’s caused the most significant influx of research papers in a single year& ...
NOV 17, 2021
Microbiology
Large Flu Outbreak at the University of Michigan Draws CDC's Attention
NOV 17, 2021
Large Flu Outbreak at the University of Michigan Draws CDC's Attention
Every year, there is a flu outbreak, and the severity can depend on many factors, like what strain is circulating. Last ...
DEC 06, 2021
Health & Medicine
Can Behavioral Science Strategies Improve Vaccination Rates?
DEC 06, 2021
Can Behavioral Science Strategies Improve Vaccination Rates?
Vaccines stimulate the immune system to defend us against serious infectious diseases. In addition, vaccination prevents ...
DEC 09, 2021
Cancer
Inflammation: Naughty or Nice List?
DEC 09, 2021
Inflammation: Naughty or Nice List?
Aulus Cornelius Celsus, a Roman physician, first identified the four major characteristics of inflammation in the first ...
DEC 30, 2021
Immunology
Lab-Grown Bat Guts Offer Clues on Viral Outbreak Origins
DEC 30, 2021
Lab-Grown Bat Guts Offer Clues on Viral Outbreak Origins
Bats have a notorious reputation as disease-spreaders—these fuzzy, winged creatures are said to be the source of m ...
Loading Comments...