Fatty immune cells: understanding lipid droplets in directing macrophage function

Project: PhD

Project Details


Lipid droplets (LDs) are organelles present in nearly all cells. They accumulate nutrients that can be made available to support cellular functions. When infecting hosts cells, viruses or bacteria sometimes settle in LDs, which provide these organisms with nutrients to support proliferation. Research has revealed that LDs contain a range of proteins with broad functions, including proteins involved in the immune response against bacterial invasion. In addition, LDs are a storage site for immunomodulating lipids. Based on those findings, LD may play a vital role in regulating the function of immune cells, such as macrophages. Studies on LDs are extensive, and mostly focus on lipid metabolism. However, knowledge about the composition and physicochemical properties of LDs in macrophages and how LDs influences the macrophage immune response is still very limited. The Ph.D. program is planned for four years and will accomplish two main objectives. The first objective is to determine the composition and physicochemical properties of LDs in macrophages. The second objective is to determine the role of LDs in macrophage immune function. The Ph.D. student will use specific genetic mouse models to modulate the abundance of LDs through in vitro and in vivo studies. A state-of-the-art toolset will be used to determine the composition and morphology of LDs and assess macrophage metabolism and function. Finally, the role of LDs in human macrophages will be evaluated. The project will comprehensively investigate the immune function of LDs in macrophages using advanced tools and research methods. It will provide new insights into how lipid metabolism and immune function are interconnected and elucidate the role of LDs on regulating macrophage functions. It will also reveal new defence mechanisms involved in the immune process. Finally, it will provide new therapeutic targets for preventing and alleviating macrophage dysfunction in multiple diseases like obesity, atherosclerosis, and pathogenic infections.
Effective start/end date1/09/22 → …


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