Oxidative stress can cause problems not only to humans but to all living organisms. Humans, as well as many other life forms, have developed various methods to combat these effects.
Now a group of EPFL researchers have discovered that even fruit flies (genus Drosophila) have a very special method to combat this phenomenon: they remove lipids or fats directly from the blood and expel them through faeces.
In the study, published in the journal Immunity, researchers describe how these small insects also produce molecules called reactive oxygen species (ROS), considered as a subgroup of free radicals.
These molecules can warn the immune system of infections and can also repair damaged tissue.
However, they can also have harmful effects on cells. These harmful effects can be counteracted by antioxidant elements such as vitamin C or vitamin E.
However, this is a delicate balance that can easily be upset by excess ROS production.
Researchers have found that fruit flies counteract excess ROS by producing a protein, which the same researchers have named “Materazzi protein” in honor of the Italian footballer and his head in the world final, which binds to the lipids in the blood and allows the same lipids to be then expelled through the stool.
According to the researchers this same mechanism could be present in other insects and perhaps also in other animals.