Introduction: Adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK), known as an enzymatic complex that regulates the energetic metabolism, is emerging as a pivotal enzyme and enzymatic pathway involved in the regulation of immune homeostatic networks. It is also involved in the molecular mechanisms underlying the pathophysiology of chronic inflammatory diseases.
Areas covered: AMPK is expressed in several immune cell types including macrophages, lymphocytes, neutrophils and dendritic cells, and governs a broad array of cell functions, which include cytokine production, chemotaxis, cytotoxicity, apoptosis and proliferation. Based on its wide variety of immunoregulatory actions, the AMPK system has been targeted to reveal its impact on the course of immune-related diseases, such as atherosclerosis, psoriasis, joint inflammation and inflammatory bowel diseases.
Expert opinion: The identification of AMPK subunits responsible for specific anti-inflammatory actions and the understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms will promote the generation of novel AMPK activators, endowed with improved pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic profiles. These new tools will aid us to utilize AMPK pathway activation in the management of acute and chronic inflammatory diseases, while minimizing potential adverse reactions related to the effects of AMPK on metabolic energy.
Keywords: adenosine; adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase; adenosine triphosphate; dendritic cells; immune system; inflammation; inflammatory disease; lymphocytes; macrophages; neutrophils.