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Recent research from the Simon Group has discovered an unexpected novel role that autophagy plays during the generation of neutrophils.

Autophagy dependent generation of free fatty acids

Within human bone marrow two million neutrophils are generated every second which require complex regulation and substantial bio-energy.   The mechanisms that govern these are not yet fully understood.

Researchers at the Kennedy Institute have found that autophagy can degrade lipid droplets in neutrophil precursors to generate the large amounts of molecular energy-currency (adenosine triphosphate) required to sustain differentiation. By breaking down lipid droplets into free fatty acids, autophagy fuels a respiration pathway in the mitochondria, the energy-producing factories of cells, to enable differentiation.

In line with this, researchers found defects in the autophagy pathway associated with acute myeloid leukaemia, a disease that is characterised by immature myeloid precursors which are blocked in their differentiation.

You can read the full article on Immunity

The next goal for the researchers is to test if we can exploit this autophagy pathway to overcome the differentiation block in myeloid leukemia.  

Find out more about the Simon Group.