The hydrophobic molecules of the metabolome - also named the lipidome - constitute a major part of the entire metabolome. Novel technologies show the existence of a staggering number of individual lipid species, the biological functions of which are, with the exception of only a few lipid species, unknown. Much can be learned from pathogens that have evolved to take advantage of the complexity of the lipidome to escape the immune system of the host organism and to allow their survival and replication. Different types of pathogens target different lipids as shown in interaction maps, allowing visualization of differences between different types of pathogens. Bacterial and viral pathogens target predominantly structural and signaling lipids to alter the cellular phenotype of the host cell. Fungal and parasitic pathogens have complex lipidomes themselves and target predominantly the release of polyunsaturated fatty acids from the host cell lipidome, resulting in the generation of eicosanoids by either the host cell or the pathogen. Thus, whereas viruses and bacteria induce predominantly alterations in lipid metabolites at the host cell level, eukaryotic pathogens focus on interference with lipid metabolites affecting systemic inflammatory reactions that are part of the immune system. A better understanding of the interplay between host-pathogen interactions will not only help elucidate the fundamental role of lipid species in cellular physiology, but will also aid in the generation of novel therapeutic drugs.

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Keywords Bacteria, Fungi, Host-pathogen interactions, Lipidome, Lipids, Metabolome, Parasites, Viruses
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Journal Traffic (Malden): the international journal of intracellular transport
Helms, J.B, Kaloyanova, D.V, Strating, J.R.P, van Hellemond, J.J, van der Schaar, H.M, Tielens, A.G.M, … Brouwers, J.F. (2015). Targeting of the Hydrophobic Metabolome by Pathogens. Traffic (Malden): the international journal of intracellular transport (Vol. 16, pp. 439–460). doi:10.1111/tra.12280