Fat cells in skin are good

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Scientists from California, USA have discovered that adipocytes (fat cells) in skin can protect against an invasive skin infection caused by a bacteria known as Staphylococcus aureus. This bacteria is known to cause infection of skin and soft tissue causing damage to them. Antibiotic-resistant forms of Staph. aureus are emerging as a major problem. Fat cells have always been implicated in immunity, but their role in host defense is unclear. When the skin was infected with Staph. aureus, rapid growth of preadipocytes and fat layer under the skin was increased. “It was thought that once the skin barrier was broken, it was entirely the responsibility of circulating (white) blood cells like neutrophils and macrophages to protect us from getting sepsis,” said Richard Gallo, the study’s principal investigator. “But it takes time to recruit these cells (to the wound site). We now show that the fat stem cells are responsible for protecting us. That was totally unexpected. It was not known that adipocytes could produce antimicrobials, let alone that they make almost as much as a neutrophil.”

Figure: Structure of skin showing various layers including adipocyte layer (Figure adapted from http://bit.ly/1vKaCzi)
Figure: Structure of skin showing various layers including adipocyte layer (Figure adapted from http://bit.ly/1vKaCzi)

The original publication can be accessed at: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/347/6217/67

Disclaimer: This article does not reflect any personal views of the authors/editors

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Scientist-entrepreneur-manager-journalist: -Co-founder, Author; Former Assistant Editor and Director, Biotechin.Asia, Biotech Media Pte. Ltd.; -Founder & CEO, SciGlo (www.sciglo.com); -Programme Management Officer, SBIC, A*STAR (former Research Fellow). --Sandhya graduated from University of Madras, India (B.Sc Microbiology and M.Sc Biotechnology) and received her Ph.D from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She worked on oxidative stress in skin, skeletal, adipose tissue and cardiac muscle for a decade from 2006-2016. She is currently working as a Programme Management Officer handling projects and grants at Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Earlier to this she was a Research Fellow in the Fat Metabolism and Stem Cell Group at SBIC. Sandhya was also the Vice President and Publicity Chair of A*PECSS (A*STAR Post Doc Society) (2014-2016). Recently she founded a platform for scientists - SciGlo (www.sciglo.com) and is a startup mentor at Vertical VC (Finland). She is an ardent lover of science and enjoys globe trotting and good vegetarian food.