Lipid of the Month

Each month we highlight a lipid of scientific interest. The LIPID MAPS® Lipid of the Month Archive lists lipids highlighted from 2015 - present.

July 2021

Lipid of the month Commendamide

On and in the human body, microbes out-number our own cells by about ten to one. Increasingly, we are coming to understand that these commensal bacteria are actively interacting with us, influencing our immune systems, and also our behaviour1. One way in which they do this is via signalling molecules which mimic those of our own bodies. Bacteroides vulgatus is a bacterium which is found in the human intestinal tract and produces a lipid called commendamide2, N-acyl-3-hydroxypalmitoyl-glycine. Commendamide is an abbreviation of ‘commensal mimicking endogenous amide’ and, as the name suggests, it likely mimics amide lipids, such as the endocannabinoids which interact with G-protein coupled receptors (GPCR) to modulate various aspects of physiology as diverse as mood, memory, hormone and and immune system regulation. Endocannabinoids bind to the same GPCRs which are stimulated by compounds in cannabis, the most abundant being tetrahydrocannabinol. 

It's unlikely however that commendamide induces the same feeling of being chilled and hungry as THC, as it interacts with a different GPCR to that which the endocannabinoids bind. Commendamide interacts with GPCR132/G2A, which is involved in signalling in the immune system. So B. vulgatus might be using it’s lipid signaling molecule to modulate our immune response to it being around.

There may be multiple roles for commendamide, it has been shown to solubilise cholesterol, lyse red blood cells, and possibly play a role in quorum sensing3. Undoubtedly the relationship between humans and our bacteria is a complex one, with much still to be discovered.


  • Gut Microbiota as a Mediator of Host Neuro-Immune Interactions: Implications in Neuroinflammatory Disorders
    Mod Trends Psychiatry
    DOI 10.1159/000510416
  • Functional metagenomic discovery of bacterial effectors in the human microbiome and isolation of commendamide, a GPCR G2A/132 agonist
    Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.
    DOI 10.1073/pnas.1508737112
  • The Bacteroidales produce an N-acylated derivative of glycine with both cholesterol-solubilising and hemolytic activity
    Sci Rep
    DOI 10.1038/s41598-017-13774-6

Lipid of the Month Archive