Hijacking and use of host lipids by intracellular pathogens

Alvaro Toledo, Jorge L. Benach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Intracellular bacteria use a number of strategies to survive, grow, multiply, and disseminate within the host. One of the most striking adaptations that intracellular pathogens have developed is the ability to utilize host lipids and their metabolism. Bacteria such as Anaplasma, Chlamydia, or Mycobacterium can use host lipids for different purposes, such as a means of entry through lipid rafts, building blocks for bacteria membrane formation, energy sources, camouflage to avoid the fusion of phagosomes and lysosomes, and dissemination. One of the most extreme examples of lipid exploitation is Mycobacterium, which not only utilizes the host lipid as a carbon and energy source but is also able to reprogram the host lipid metabolism. Likewise, Chlamydia spp. have also developed numerous mechanisms to reprogram lipids onto their intracellular inclusions. Finally, while the ability to exploit host lipids is important in intracellular bacteria, it is not an exclusive trait. Extracellular pathogens, including Helicobacter, Mycoplasma, and Borrelia, can recruit and metabolize host lipids that are important for their growth and survival. Throughout this chapter we will review how intracellular and extracellular bacterial pathogens utilize host lipids to enter, survive, multiply, and disseminate in the host.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberVMBF-0001-2014
JournalMicrobiology Spectrum
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Ecology
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology
  • Infectious Diseases


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