Metabolic signatures of T-cells and macrophages in rheumatoid arthritis

Cornelia M. Weyand, Markus Zeisbrich, Jörg J. Goronzy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


In most autoimmune diseases, a decade-long defect in self-tolerance eventually leads to clinically relevant, tissue-destructive inflammatory disease. The pathogenic potential of chronic persistent immune responses during the pre-clinical and clinical phase is ultimately linked to the bioenergetic fitness of innate and adaptive immune cells. Chronic immune cell stimulation, high cellular turn-over, structural damage to the host tissue and maladaptive wound healing, all require a reliable supply of nutrients, oxygen, and biosynthetic precursors. Here, we use the model system of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) to discuss immunometabolism from the vantage point of T-cells and macrophages that encounter fundamentally different metabolic stress scenarios in the RA host. We outline the general principle that both insufficient nutrient supply, as well as nutrient excess generate cellular stress responses and guide immune function. ATPlow, NADPHhigh, ROSlow T-cells hyperproliferate and are forced into premature senescence. ATPhigh, ROShigh macrophages dimerize the glycolytic enzyme pyruvate kinase to amplify STAT3-dependent inflammatory effector functions. A corollary of this model is that simple nutraceutical interventions will be insufficient to re-educate the immune system in RA. Instead, interference with cell-type-exclusive and differentiation-stage-dependent metabolic setpoints will be needed to reprogram arthritogenic pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-120
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Opinion in Immunology
StatePublished - Jun 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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