Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Elusive Lipids

Lipids from bacteria around hair follicles implicated in a kind of acne

27 December 2019

Elusive Lipids

Butter, cheese and red meat all contain fats called triglycerides, a kind of neutral lipid. Neutral lipids are implicated in diseases including diabetes and heart disease. An imaging technique called matrix-assisted LDI effectively images all kinds of lipids, except neutral lipids. Researchers now demonstrate how a new technique, NAPA-LDI-MSI, can image specific neutral lipids. They tested it on human skin tissue from patients with a skin disease called hidradenitis suppurativa (HS). Bacteria are suggested to contribute to HS, infecting areas around hair follicles and sweat glands but investigating this has been technically challenging. Using NAPA-LDI-MSI researchers detected increased neutral lipids around hair follicles with bacteria the likely source. Scanning electron microscopy of normal (pictured, left) and HS skin (right) proved them right, revealing more bacteria on hair follicles in HS skin. NAPA-LDI-MSI could, therefore, prove useful in studying HS by mapping neutral lipids and so the location of harmful bacteria.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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