Nitric Oxide in Macrophage Immunometabolism: Hiding in Plain Sight

Metabolites. 2020 Oct 26;10(11):429. doi: 10.3390/metabo10110429.


Nitric Oxide (NO) is a soluble endogenous gas with various biological functions like signaling, and working as an effector molecule or metabolic regulator. In response to inflammatory signals, immune myeloid cells, like macrophages, increase production of cytokines and NO, which is important for pathogen killing. Under these proinflammatory circumstances, called "M1", macrophages undergo a series of metabolic changes including rewiring of their tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. Here, we review findings indicating that NO, through its interaction with heme and non-heme metal containing proteins, together with components of the electron transport chain, functions not only as a regulator of cell respiration, but also a modulator of intracellular cell metabolism. Moreover, diverse effects of NO and NO-derived reactive nitrogen species (RNS) involve precise interactions with different targets depending on concentration, temporal, and spatial restrictions. Although the role of NO in macrophage reprogramming has been in evidence for some time, current models have largely minimized its importance. It has, therefore, been hiding in plain sight. A review of the chemical properties of NO, past biochemical studies, and recent publications, necessitates that mechanisms of macrophage TCA reprogramming during stimulation must be re-imagined and re-interpreted as mechanistic results of NO exposure. The revised model of metabolic rewiring we describe here incorporates many early findings regarding NO biochemistry and brings NO out of hiding and to the forefront of macrophages immunometabolism.

Keywords: macrophage; metabolic reprogramming; nitric oxide.

Publication types

  • Review