Inflammatory microglia are glycolytic and iron retentive and typify the microglia in APP/PS1 mice

Brain Behav Immun. 2018 Feb;68:183-196. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2017.10.017. Epub 2017 Oct 20.


Microglia, like macrophages, can adopt inflammatory and anti-inflammatory phenotypes depending on the stimulus. In macrophages, the evidence indicates that these phenotypes have different metabolic profiles with lipopolysaccharide (LPS)- or interferon-γ (IFNγ)-stimulated inflammatory cells switching to glycolysis as their main source of ATP and interleukin-4 (IL-4)-stimulated cells utilizing oxidative phosphorylation. There is a paucity of information regarding the metabolic signatures of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory microglia. Here, we polarized primary microglia with IFNγ and show that the characteristic increases in tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) and nitric oxide synthase 2 (NOS2) were accompanied by increased glycolysis and an increase in the expression of 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-biphosphatase (PFKFB)3, an enzyme that plays a significant role in driving glycolysis. These changes were associated with increased expression of ferritin and retention of iron in microglia. Significantly, retention of iron in microglia increased TNFα expression and also increased glycolysis suggesting that increased intracellular iron concentration may drive the metabolic and/or inflammatory changes. Analysis of microglia prepared from wildtype mice and from transgenic mice that overexpress amyloid precursor protein (APP) and presenilin 1 (PS1; APP/PS1) revealed genotype-related increases in glycolysis, accompanied by increased PFKFB3, and an increase in the expression of ferritin. The data indicate a distinct metabolic signature of inflammatory microglia from APP/PS1 mice that are also distinguishable by their iron handling profiles.

Keywords: APP/PS1 mice; Ferritin; Glycolysis; IFNγ; Iron; Microglial activation; PFKFB3.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / genetics
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Ferritins / metabolism
  • Glycolysis / physiology
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-4 / metabolism
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microglia / immunology*
  • Microglia / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II / metabolism
  • Phosphofructokinase-2 / metabolism
  • Presenilin-1 / genetics
  • Presenilin-1 / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Presenilin-1
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Ferritins
  • Iron
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • PFKFB3 protein, mouse
  • Phosphofructokinase-2