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Front Immunol. 2018 Feb 5;9:141. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.00141. eCollection 2018.

A Role for the Krebs Cycle Intermediate Citrate in Metabolic Reprogramming in Innate Immunity and Inflammation.

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School of Biochemistry and Immunology, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.


Metabolism in immune cells is no longer thought of as merely a process for adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production, biosynthesis, and catabolism. The reprogramming of metabolic pathways upon activation is also for the production of metabolites that can act as immune signaling molecules. Activated dendritic cells (DCs) and macrophages have an altered Krebs cycle, one consequence of which is the accumulation of both citrate and succinate. Citrate is exported from the mitochondria via the mitochondrial citrate- carrier. Cytosolic metabolism of citrate to acetyl-coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA) is important for both fatty-acid synthesis and protein acetylation, both of which have been linked to macrophage and DC activation. Citrate-derived itaconate has a direct antibacterial effect and also has been shown to act as an anti-inflammatory agent, inhibiting succinate dehydrogenase. These findings identify citrate as an important metabolite for macrophage and DC effector function.


ATP-citrate lyase; Krebs cycle; acetylation; citrate; immunometabolism; itaconate; macrophages; metabolism

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