Metabolic Programming of Macrophages: Implications in the Pathogenesis of Granulomatous Disease

Front Immunol. 2019 Oct 4;10:2265. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.02265. eCollection 2019.


Metabolic reprogramming is rapidly gaining appreciation in the etiology of immune cell dysfunction in a variety of diseases. Tuberculosis, schistosomiasis, and sarcoidosis represent an important class of diseases characterized by the formation of granulomas, where macrophages are causatively implicated in disease pathogenesis. Recent studies support the incidence of macrophage metabolic reprogramming in granulomas of both infectious and non-infectious origin. These publications identify the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR), as well as the major regulators of lipid metabolism and cellular energy balance, peroxisome proliferator receptor gamma (PPAR-γ) and adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK), respectively, as key players in the pathological progression of granulomas. In this review, we present a comprehensive breakdown of emerging research on the link between macrophage cell metabolism and granulomas of different etiology, and how parallels can be drawn between different forms of granulomatous disease. In particular, we discuss the role of PPAR-γ signaling and lipid metabolism, which are currently the best-represented metabolic pathways in this context, and we highlight dysregulated lipid metabolism as a common denominator in granulomatous disease progression. This review therefore aims to highlight metabolic mechanisms of granuloma immune cell fate and open up research questions for the identification of potential therapeutic targets in the future.

Keywords: granuloma; immunometabolism; macrophage; sarcoidosis; schistosomiasis; tuberculosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / physiology
  • Cell Polarity
  • Citric Acid Cycle
  • Granuloma / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Macrophage Activation
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1 / physiology
  • PPAR gamma / physiology
  • Sarcoidosis / complications
  • Sarcoidosis / metabolism
  • Schistosomiasis / complications
  • Schistosomiasis / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tuberculosis / complications
  • Tuberculosis / metabolism


  • PPAR gamma
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases