As a matter of fat: Potential links between lipid droplets and MND

Lipid droplets (in green) and the ALS8-associated protein DVAP (in red) in the fat body (adipose tissue) of the fruit-fly.

Jul 2018: Centre researcher Dr Giuseppa Pennetta has co-authored an essay presenting evidence that droplets of fat might have a beneficial effect in cells affected by MND.

Lipid droplets are a deposit of fat that exist in cells. They are associated with a number of diseases including obesity, fatty liver and heart disease.

Dr Giuseppa Pennetta, with Prof. Michael Welte (University of Rochester, NY, USA), has reviewed the evidence that lipid droplets could affect motor neuron function and survival both in health and disease.

In an published essay, the researchers propose that lipid droplets in cells called glia, which support the neurons, could function as a fuel supply and therefore affect their function and survival. But the role of lipid droplets in motor neurons may go beyond this. There is some evidence that lipid droplets could help in dissolving and clearing up those 'clogged'  faulty proteins that accumulate within the brain in many neurodegenerative diseases including MND.

This study provides a new perspective in the understanding of MND-related processes and may lead to the identification of new targets for treatments.

Related links

Read the scientific article in Developmental Cell: Emerging Links between Lipid Droplets and Motor Neuron Diseases. (subscription might be required)

Dr Giuseppa Pennetta profile on the University of Edinburgh website

This article was published on: Wednesday, July 04, 2018