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Krebs Cycle Reborn In Macrophage Immunometabolism

Dylan G. Ryan, Luke A.J. O'Neill

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A striking change has happened in the field of immunology whereby specific metabolic processes have been shown to be a critical determinant of immune cell activation. Multiple immune receptor types rewire metabolic pathways as a key part of how they promote effector functions. Perhaps surprisingly for immunologists, the Krebs cycle has emerged as the central immunometabolic hub of the macrophage. During proinflammatory macrophage activation, there is an accumulation of the Krebs cycle intermediates succinate and citrate, and the Krebs cycle–derived metabolite itaconate. These metabolites have distinct nonmetabolic signaling roles that influence inflammatory gene expression. A key bioenergetic target for the Krebs cycle, the electron transport chain, also becomes altered, generating reactive oxygen species from Complexes I and III. Similarly, alternatively activated macrophages require α-ketoglutarate-dependent epigenetic reprogramming to elicit anti-inflammatory gene expression. In this review, we discuss these advances and speculate on the possibility of targeting these events therapeutically for inflammatory diseases.