Lipid Trafficking and Disease group


Nature is an excellent tinkerer, not a divine artificer

(Francois Jacob, 1965 Nobel Prize in Medicine).


The human body is a unique ingenuity; able to walk, talk, invent, reproduce and die.

30 trillion cells, working in society, make it possible. 

Our challenge? Decode the cell.

The human body contains 200 different types of cells exquisitely coordinated. Neurons, hepatocytes, stem cells or lymphocytes are examples. When one or more components of this orchestra fail, the illness appears. One of the most common causes of illness is lipotoxicity. Lipids, such as cholesterol or fatty acids, are essential for building and maintaining the cells active but in excess, they are harmful. Obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis, cancer or neurodegeneration originate or aggravate due to lipotoxicity. The statistics say that almost 100% of Europeans will suffer from at least one of these diseases.


Lipotoxicity can affect any type of cell; a healthy lifestyle is the first treatment. That said, we cannot forget that lipids are essential for life: they represent 10% of the weight of a cell and 50% of cell membranes. Our group wants to understand the molecular mechanisms of lipotoxicity and find out why some lipids are toxic but other beneficial. We study how cells store, use and eliminate fats. This knowledge will allow us to choose the right therapeutic targets and efficient medicines to treat the many aspects of lipotoxicity.


Since 2001, the group has studied the cell biology and the physiology of lipid droplets (LDs, see image). LDs are the intracellular organelles specifically designed during evolution to avoid lipotoxicity. Highly conserved in all eukaryotes, LDs store lipids, if there is excess, and distribute them, when the cell needs it. We have studied LDs from their formation in the endoplasmic reticulum until their consumption in mitochondria. We are studying the role of LD in different physio-pathological situations such as obesity, liver regeneration and the immune response.


The top image shows caveolin (red) and TIP47 (green) on intracellular lipid droplets. The lower panels show distribution of model peptides constructed in our lab and used as lipid droplet markers.  Cover Image of Traffic’s Virtual Issue on Lipids,  from I
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