The Bidirectional Relationship Between Metabolism and Immune Responses

Discoveries (Craiova). 2013;1(1):e6. doi: 10.15190/d.2013.6.


Immunometabolism investigates the multiple links between the immune system and metabolism. One main focus of immunometabolism investigates how obesity impacts the immune system and pro-inflammatory immune cell function, leading to metabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes (T2D). The second focus stresses the metabolic changes that dictate immune cell activation. Several groups have studied these two arms of the field individually, but work that integrates both topics will be required to develop an accurate understanding of how immune cells and metabolic pathways collaborate in obesity and obesity-associated T2D. Investigations of the relationships among obesity-induced changes in the nutritional environment, immune cell activation, and immune cell metabolism may lead to novel and efficacious therapies for obesity-associated disorders such as insulin resistance (IR) and T2D. This review outlines recent insights into two related processes: 1. the role that energy utilization plays in immune responses and 2. the immune cell functions that drive obesity and T2D. Herein, we begin to consider how shifts in available fuel sources in obesity and T2D impact the immune response to both pathogens and chronic over nutrition.

Keywords: diet-induced obesity; immune cell activation; immunometabolism; nutrients; obesity; type 2 diabetes.