Polarization and β-Glucan Reprogram Immunomodulatory Metabolism in Human Macrophages and Ex Vivo in Human Lung Cancer Tissues

J Immunol. 2022 Nov 1;209(9):1674-1690. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.2200178. Epub 2022 Sep 23.


Immunomodulatory (IM) metabolic reprogramming in macrophages (Mϕs) is fundamental to immune function. However, limited information is available for human Mϕs, particularly in response plasticity, which is critical to understanding the variable efficacy of immunotherapies in cancer patients. We carried out an in-depth analysis by combining multiplex stable isotope-resolved metabolomics with reversed phase protein array to map the dynamic changes of the IM metabolic network and key protein regulators in four human donors' Mϕs in response to differential polarization and M1 repolarizer β-glucan (whole glucan particles [WGPs]). These responses were compared with those of WGP-treated ex vivo organotypic tissue cultures (OTCs) of human non-small cell lung cancer. We found consistently enhanced tryptophan catabolism with blocked NAD+ and UTP synthesis in M1-type Mϕs (M1-Mϕs), which was associated with immune activation evidenced by increased release of IL-1β/CXCL10/IFN-γ/TNF-α and reduced phagocytosis. In M2a-Mϕs, WGP treatment of M2a-Mϕs robustly increased glucose utilization via the glycolysis/oxidative branch of the pentose phosphate pathway while enhancing UDP-N-acetyl-glucosamine turnover and glutamine-fueled gluconeogenesis, which was accompanied by the release of proinflammatory IL-1β/TNF-α to above M1-Mϕ's levels, anti-inflammatory IL-10 to above M2a-Mϕ's levels, and attenuated phagocytosis. These IM metabolic responses could underlie the opposing effects of WGP, i.e., reverting M2- to M1-type immune functions but also boosting anti-inflammation. Variable reprogrammed Krebs cycle and glutamine-fueled synthesis of UTP in WGP-treated OTCs of human non-small cell lung cancer were observed, reflecting variable M1 repolarization of tumor-associated Mϕs. This was supported by correlation with IL-1β/TNF-α release and compromised tumor status, making patient-derived OTCs unique models for studying variable immunotherapeutic efficacy in cancer patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / metabolism
  • Glucosamine / metabolism
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glutamine / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-10
  • Lung Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Macrophages
  • NAD / metabolism
  • Phagocytosis
  • Tryptophan / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Uridine Diphosphate / metabolism
  • Uridine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • beta-Glucans* / metabolism


  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • beta-Glucans
  • Glutamine
  • NAD
  • Interleukin-10
  • Uridine Diphosphate
  • Tryptophan
  • Glucose
  • Glucosamine
  • Uridine Triphosphate