Meta-Inflammation and Metabolic Reprogramming of Macrophages in Diabetes and Obesity: The Importance of Metabolites

Sara Russo, Marcel Kwiatkowski, Natalia Govorukhina, Rainer Bischoff, Barbro N Melgert*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)
85 Downloads (Pure)


Diabetes mellitus type II and obesity are two important causes of death in modern society. They are characterized by low-grade chronic inflammation and metabolic dysfunction (meta-inflammation), which is observed in all tissues involved in energy homeostasis. A substantial body of evidence has established an important role for macrophages in these tissues during the development of diabetes mellitus type II and obesity. Macrophages can activate into specialized subsets by cues from their microenvironment to handle a variety of tasks. Many different subsets have been described and in diabetes/obesity literature two main classifications are widely used that are also defined by differential metabolic reprogramming taking place to fuel their main functions. Classically activated, pro-inflammatory macrophages (often referred to as M1) favor glycolysis, produce lactate instead of metabolizing pyruvate to acetyl-CoA, and have a tricarboxylic acid cycle that is interrupted at two points. Alternatively activated macrophages (often referred to as M2) mainly use beta-oxidation of fatty acids and oxidative phosphorylation to create energy-rich molecules such as ATP and are involved in tissue repair and downregulation of inflammation. Since diabetes type II and obesity are characterized by metabolic alterations at the organism level, these alterations may also induce changes in macrophage metabolism resulting in unique macrophage activation patterns in diabetes and obesity. This review describes the interactions between metabolic reprogramming of macrophages and conditions of metabolic dysfunction like diabetes and obesity. We also focus on different possibilities of measuring a range of metabolites intra-and extracellularly in a precise and comprehensive manner to better identify the subsets of polarized macrophages that are unique to diabetes and obesity. Advantages and disadvantages of the currently most widely used metabolite analysis approaches are highlighted. We further describe how their combined use may serve to provide a comprehensive overview of the metabolic changes that take place intracellularly during macrophage activation in conditions like diabetes and obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number746151
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2021

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