Fat Body Cells Are Motile and Actively Migrate to Wounds to Drive Repair and Prevent Infection

Dev Cell. 2018 Feb 26;44(4):460-470.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2018.01.026.


Adipocytes have many functions in various tissues beyond energy storage, including regulating metabolism, growth, and immunity. However, little is known about their role in wound healing. Here we use live imaging of fat body cells, the equivalent of vertebrate adipocytes in Drosophila, to investigate their potential behaviors and functions following skin wounding. We find that pupal fat body cells are not immotile, as previously presumed, but actively migrate to wounds using an unusual adhesion-independent, actomyosin-driven, peristaltic mode of motility. Once at the wound, fat body cells collaborate with hemocytes, Drosophila macrophages, to clear the wound of cell debris; they also tightly seal the epithelial wound gap and locally release antimicrobial peptides to fight wound infection. Thus, fat body cells are motile cells, enabling them to migrate to wounds to undertake several local functions needed to drive wound repair and prevent infections.

Keywords: Drosophila; adipocytes; antimicrobial peptides (AMPs); cell migration; fat body; hemocytes; inflammatory response; wound healing; wound infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actomyosin / metabolism
  • Adipocytes / cytology
  • Adipocytes / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / pharmacology*
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Drosophila melanogaster / drug effects
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Escherichia coli
  • Escherichia coli Infections / microbiology
  • Escherichia coli Infections / prevention & control*
  • Fat Body / cytology
  • Fat Body / metabolism*
  • Wound Healing / drug effects*


  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • Actomyosin