Mitochondria’s role in processing dietary fat revealed in study

Mitochondrial dysfunction halts dietary lipid processing in enterocytes.


Balancing the fat in our bodies is super important for staying healthy. Too much fatty food can lead to problems like obesity and atherosclerosis. However, fat is a necessary part of our diet because it gives our bodies important stuff and helps absorb vitamins.

In a recent study in the journal Nature, a team of scientists led by Professor Manolis Pasparakis, along with Professors Aleksandra Trifunovic and Christian Frezza from the University of Cologne‘s CECAD and Professor Jörg Heeren from the University of Hamburg, found a new way our bodies handle and move the fat we eat.

The scientists looked at tiny powerhouses called mitochondria in cells lining the intestine, called enterocytes. These cells are experts at taking in and moving nutrients from food. When they messed with the mitochondria in mice’s intestines, it caused too much fat to build up in the enterocytes. Also, the transport of fats to other body parts got messed up.

The significant discovery was that when mitochondria didn’t work right, enterocytes couldn’t package and move fats properly in chylomicrons. Chylomicrons are like delivery trucks for fats from our food, and it’s super important that they’re made and moved around correctly for our bodies to get the nutrients they need.

 Dr Chrysanthi Moschandrea, the study’s lead author, said, “This discovery marks a significant leap forward in understanding the crucial role of mitochondria in dietary lipid transport and metabolism.” 

Professor Aleksandra Trifunovic added, “These findings provide new perspectives for the better understanding of the gastrointestinal symptoms in patients suffering from mitochondrial disease and may also lead to new therapeutic approaches.”

In conclusion, the study underscores mitochondria’s integral role in dietary fat processing within enterocytes. Understanding these mechanisms provides valuable insights into potential avenues for addressing disruptions in lipid homeostasis and associated health conditions

Journal reference:

  1. Moschandrea, C., Kondylis, V., Evangelakos, I. et al. Mitochondrial dysfunction abrogates dietary lipid processing in enterocytes. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/s41586-023-06857-0.


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