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Semin Immunol. 2012 Dec;24(6):405-13. doi: 10.1016/j.smim.2012.12.002. Epub 2013 Jan 3.

Matched and mismatched metabolic fuels in lymphocyte function.

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Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, Sarah W Stedman Nutrition and Metabolism Center, Duke University, Durham, NC 27710, United States.


Immunological function requires metabolic support to suit the needs of lymphocytes at a variety of distinct differentiation and activation states. It is now evident that the signaling pathways that drive lymphocyte survival and activity can directly control cellular metabolism. This linkage provides a mechanism by which activation and specific signaling pathways provide a supply of appropriate and required nutrients to support cell functions in a pro-active supply rather than consumption-based metabolic model. In this way, the metabolism and fuel choices of lymphocytes are guided to specifically match the anticipated needs. If the fuel choice or metabolic pathways of lymphocytes are dysregulated, however, metabolic checkpoints can become activated to disrupt immunological function. These changes are now shown in several immunological diseases and may open new opportunities to selectively enhance or suppress specific immune functions through targeting of glucose, lipid, or amino acid metabolism.

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