Challenging metabolism may help fight disease

Challenging metabolism may help fight disease
Colorized scanning electron micrograph of a T lymphocyte. Credit: NIAID

New research by Swansea University academics has shown that harnessing metabolism at a cellular level may help to relieve or heal a range of disorders.

Researchers at the University's Medical School who have published their findings in the journal Nature Communications looked at how , which are essential to fighting infection and preventing diseases like cancer, use their metabolic pathways when they are activated in the laboratory.

When these infection and cancer fighting cells, known as CD4+ T cells, are challenged, they make enough energy to fuel their important cellular functions and to create biosynthetic to divide and increase to respond to challenges like an infection.

The researchers found that the cells do this by taking up nutrients and processing them through cellular metabolic pathways. When the cells are activated they re-programme their metabolic pathways in order to provide the energy and building blocks needed to carry out their function.

Dr. Nick Jones, of Swansea University Medical School, who led the study said: "It is important to understand how these cells function metabolically as it might lead to new therapies to help treat infectious diseases and cancer. In this study we have scrutinised the used by the immune cell and how a particular type of metabolism of the cells allows them to carry out these important functions. In doing so our results indicate that manipulating metabolism may have help to fight various diseases or disorders.

"Our next steps in our research will be understanding how differences in key sugars in our diet can affect the immune system response when challenged by bacteria."

Explore further

The 'greying' of T cells: Scientists pinpoint metabolic pathway behind age-related immunity loss

More information: Nicholas Jones et al, Akt and STAT5 mediate naïve human CD4+ T-cell early metabolic response to TCR stimulation, Nature Communications (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-10023-4
Journal information: Nature Communications

Provided by Swansea University
Citation: Challenging metabolism may help fight disease (2019, May 7) retrieved 20 June 2021 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments