Extrinsic and Intrinsic Immunometabolism Converge: Perspectives on Future Research and Therapeutic Development for Obesity

Curr Obes Rep. 2019 Sep;8(3):210-219. doi: 10.1007/s13679-019-00344-2.


Purpose of review: Research over the past decade has shown that immunologic and metabolic pathways are intricately linked. This burgeoning field of immunometabolism includes intrinsic and extrinsic pathways and is known to be associated with obesity-accelerated metabolic disease. Intrinsic immunometabolism includes the study of fuel utilization and bioenergetic pathways that influence immune cell function. Extrinsic immunometabolism includes the study of immune cells and products that influence systemic metabolism.

Recent findings: Th2 immunity, macrophage iron handling, adaptive immune memory, and epigenetic regulation of immunity, which all require intrinsic metabolic changes, play a role in systemic metabolism and metabolic function, linking the two arms of immunometabolism. Together, this suggests that targeting intrinsic immunometabolism can directly affect immune function and ultimately systemic metabolism. We highlight important questions for future basic research that will help improve translational research and provide therapeutic targets to help establish new treatments for obesity and associated metabolic disorders.

Keywords: Adaptive immunity; Adipose tissue; Epigenetics; Immunology; Immunometabolism; Iron handling; Obesity; Th2 immunity; Therapeutic development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Adipose Tissue / immunology
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Humans
  • Immunity
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Metabolic Diseases / therapy
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • MicroRNAs / immunology
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Obesity / immunology*
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Obesity / therapy*


  • MicroRNAs
  • Iron