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Lipid‐based regulators of immunity


Lipids constitute a diverse class of molecular regulators with ubiquitous physiological roles in sustaining life. These carbon-rich compounds are primarily sourced from exogenous sources and may be used directly as structural cellular building blocks or as a substrate for generating signaling mediators to regulate cell behavior. In both of these roles, lipids play a key role in both immune activation and suppression, leading to inflammation and resolution, respectively. The simple yet elegant structural properties of lipids encompassing size, hydrophobicity, and molecular weight enable unique biodistribution profiles that facilitate preferential accumulation in target tissues to modulate relevant immune cell subsets. Thus, the structural and functional properties of lipids can be leveraged to generate new materials as pharmacological agents for potently modulating the immune system. Here, we discuss the properties of three classes of lipids: polyunsaturated fatty acids, short-chain fatty acids, and lipid adjuvants. We describe their immunoregulatory functions in modulating disease pathogenesis in preclinical models and in human clinical trials. We conclude with an outlook on harnessing the diverse and potent immune modulating properties of lipids for immunoregulation.

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