Connecting causes and immune consequences of infection-induced metabolic change


  • Dr Marc Dionne

    Imperial College London

Project summary

All animals experience metabolic changes when they have infections and some of these changes can be debilitating. Tuberculosis used to be called consumption because of the slow wasting that characterised the disease, while people who have blood infections can lose 10 per cent or more of their body weight in a matter of weeks. These metabolic changes are caused by activation of the immune response, but we don’t understand how immune responses cause metabolic change and – more importantly – we don’t understand why this happens. We believe that some of the metabolic changes driven by infections must be beneficial, but we don’t know how or why.

We will study the response to infections in the fruit fly. We will identify the metabolic molecules that are changed by infection and determine how these changes are connected with the activation of the immune response. We will establish which of these changes are important for fighting infection or helping the fly survive and which are not.

By understanding these metabolic changes better, we might be able to make therapies that can inhibit the damaging changes to metabolism while allowing the changes that promote a healthy immune response.