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J Immunol. 2010 Jul 1;185(1):605-14. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0901698. Epub 2010 May 24.

Substrate fate in activated macrophages: a comparison between innate, classic, and alternative activation.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Institute of Biomedicine, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.


Macrophages play a relevant role in innate and adaptive immunity depending on the balance of the stimuli received. From an analytical and functional point of view, macrophage stimulation can be segregated into three main modes, as follows: innate, classic, and alternative pathways. These differential activations result in the expression of specific sets of genes involved in the release of pro- or anti-inflammatory stimuli. In the present work, we have analyzed whether specific metabolic patterns depend on the signaling pathway activated. A [1,2-(13)C(2)]glucose tracer-based metabolomics approach has been used to characterize the metabolic flux distributions in macrophages stimulated through the classic, innate, and alternative pathways. Using this methodology combined with mass isotopomer distribution analysis of the new formed metabolites, the data show that activated macrophages are essentially glycolytic cells, and a clear cutoff between the classic/innate activation and the alternative pathway exists. Interestingly, macrophage activation through LPS/IFN-gamma or TLR-2, -3, -4, and -9 results in similar flux distribution patterns regardless of the pathway activated. However, stimulation through the alternative pathway has minor metabolic effects. The molecular basis of the differences between these two types of behavior involves a switch in the expression of 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-bisphosphatase (PFK2) from the liver type-PFK2 to the more active ubiquitous PFK2 isoenzyme, which responds to Hif-1alpha activation and increases fructose-2,6-bisphosphate concentration and the glycolytic flux. However, using macrophages targeted for Hif-1alpha, the switch of PFK2 isoenzymes still occurs in LPS/IFN-gamma-activated macrophages, suggesting that this pathway regulates ubiquitous PFK2 expression through Hif-1alpha-independent mechanisms.

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