The study examines the role of metabolism in immune cell behavior

A new understanding of immune cell biology.


Our body is a network of trillions of individual living cells. Thus, our overall state of bodily health is an ideal portrayal of how healthy or unhealthy our cells are.

Having healthy cells implies we have a healthy body, and having stressed-out, unhealthy, dysfunctional cells means the body has a malady. Cells always exposed to physical, emotional, and energetic stress become useless, and this dysfunction is likened to “dis-ease” because the cell’s body are no longer calm.

However, what makes healthy cells change and become dysfunctional while causing the disease?

Yale’s study suggests that in addition to a disruption in genes that regulate cells, there is another factor in cell misbehavior that involves metabolism.

Scientists started by studying the metabolism of mitochondria, specialized structures in cells that turn nutrients into energy. They then used a combination of techniques, including CRISPR gene editing and genetic sequencing studies, to examine the biochemistry and behavior of lymphocytes — immune cells that determine the body’s response to specific threats.

They found that metabolism inside the lymphocytes activates the immune cells to increase and mimic a particular function. This already unrecognized procedure is separate from cell changes that are due to genes. This revelation gives another comprehension of immune cell biology. It likewise paves the way for creating novel targets to treat cell dysfunction and related diseases, for example, cancer.

The study is published in Nature. First authors Will Bailis and Justin A. Shyer led the research in the lab of Richard Flavell at Yale School of Medicine.


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