Rethinking succinate: an unexpected hormone-like metabolite in energy homeostasis

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2021 Sep;32(9):680-692. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2021.06.003. Epub 2021 Jul 20.


There has been an explosion of interest in the signaling capacity of energy metabolites. A prime example is the Krebs cycle substrate succinate, an archetypal respiratory substrate with functions beyond energy production as an intracellular and extracellular signaling molecule. Long associated with inflammation, emerging evidence supports a key role for succinate in metabolic processes relating to energy management. As the natural ligand for SUCNR1, a G protein-coupled receptor, succinate is akin to hormones and likely functions as a reporter of metabolism and stress. In this review, we reconcile new and old observations to outline a regulatory role for succinate in metabolic homeostasis. We highlight the importance of the succinate-SUCNR1 axis in metabolic diseases as an integrator of macrophage immune response, and we discuss new metabolic functions recently ascribed to succinate in specific tissues. Because circulating succinate has emerged as a promising biomarker in chronic metabolic diseases, a better understanding of the physiopathological role of the succinate-SUCNR1 axis in metabolism might open new avenues for clinical use in patients with obesity or diabetes.

Keywords: SUCNR1; energy metabolite; metabolic diseases; metabolic function; succinate.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Succinic Acid*


  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Succinic Acid