New study from ATLAS discovers the immune system also helps a healthy body

24. February 2022

Many people previously thought that the immune system only kicks in during sickness. But a new study by researchers from the Center of Excellence ATLAS at the University of Southern Denmark has discovered that the immune system also helps a healthy body. The study has been published in the scientific journal Cell Metabolism.

Illustration. Photo: Unsplash

The immune system is also working when you aren’t sick. The immune system is helping a healthy body by producing the energy source ketone bodies. The Center of Excellence ATLAS is part of a new study recently published in the scientific journal Cell Metabolism.

“Until recently, it was believed that the immune system was mostly dormant unless the body was under attack in connection with infections. However, it now turns out that the immune system most likely also plays an important role for perfectly healthy people and can affect the body’s production of vital energy sources,” said post-doc Anna Loft, who is one of the lead authors on the study.

Strengthens the brain

The immune system produces the energy source ketone bodies by helping the liver burn fat during fasting. It is not alle the body’s cells that are able to burn fat, for example the brain, which instead gets energy from ketone bodies.

“We now believe that the immune system affects the production of ketone bodies in fit and healthy individuals, and given the beneficial effects of ketone bodies in various common metabolic disorders, this knowledge can hopefully also be applied to understand how the immune system is trying to keep the body in equilibrium when we’re sick,” said Loft.

The new study was primarily carried out at the Helmholtz Diabetes Center in Munich, where Loft and Assistant Professor Søren Fisker Schmidt from ATLAS collaborated with German researchers.

Read more about the study at SDU here

Read the scientific article in Cell Metabolism here