Metabolic influence on macrophage polarization and pathogenesis

BMB Rep. 2019 Jun;52(6):360-372. doi: 10.5483/BMBRep.2019.52.6.140.


Macrophages play an essential role not only in mediating the first line of defense but also in maintaining tissue homeostasis. In response to extrinsic factors derived from a given tissue, macrophages activate different functional programs to produce polarized macrophage populations responsible for inducing inflammation against microbes, removing cellular debris, and tissue repair. However, accumulating evidence has revealed that macrophage polarization is pivotal in the pathophysiology of metabolic syndromes and cancer, as well as in infectious and autoimmune diseases. Recent advances in transcriptomic and metabolomic studies have highlighted the link between metabolic rewiring of macrophages and their functional plasticity. These findings imply that metabolic adaption to their surrounding microenvironment instructs activation of macrophages with functionally distinct phenotypes, which in turn probably leads to the pathogenesis of a wide spectrum of diseases. In this review, we have introduced emerging concepts in immunometabolism with focus on the impact on functional activation of macrophages. Furthermore, we have discussed the implication of macrophage plasticity on the pathogenesis of metabolic syndromes and cancer, and how the disease microenvironment manipulates macrophage metabolism with regard to the pathophysiology. [BMB Reports 2019; 52(6): 360-372].

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Atherosclerosis / immunology
  • Cell Polarity / physiology*
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation / physiology
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Macrophage Activation / physiology
  • Macrophages / cytology*
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Obesity / immunology
  • Phenotype