According to a study published in the journal Science, fat cells below the skin help protect you from bacteria.
Skin fat cells known as adipocytes produce antimicrobial peptides that fend off invading bacteria and other pathogens. This unknown role of the dermal fat cells has now been discovered. It was earlier thought that it was the responsibility of circulating (white) blood cells like neutrophils and macrophages to protect us from getting sepsis.
For the study, the researchers exposed mice to Staphylococcus aureus—a common bacterium, and major cause of skin and soft tissue infections in humans. They detected a major increase in both the number and size of fat cells at the site of infection within hours. They also produced high levels of an antimicrobial peptide (AMP) called cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide or CAMP.
AMPs are molecules used by the innate immune response to directly kill invasive bacteria, viruses, fungi and other pathogens.