Microglia reprogram metabolic profiles for phenotype and function changes in central nervous system

Sheng Yang, Chuan Qin, Zi Wei Hu, Luo Qi Zhou, Hai Han Yu, Man Chen, Dale B. Bosco, Wei Wang, Long Jun Wu, Dai Shi Tian

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In response to various types of environmental and cellular stress, microglia rapidly activate and exhibit either pro- or anti-inflammatory phenotypes to maintain tissue homeostasis. Activation of microglia can result in changes in morphology, phagocytosis capacity, and secretion of cytokines. Furthermore, microglial activation also induces changes to cellular energy demand, which is dependent on the metabolism of various metabolic substrates including glucose, fatty acids, and amino acids. Accumulating evidence demonstrates metabolic reprogramming acts as a key driver of microglial immune response. For instance, microglia in pro-inflammatory states preferentially use glycolysis for energy production, whereas, cells in anti-inflammatory states are mainly powered by oxidative phosphorylation and fatty acid oxidation. In this review, we summarize recent findings regarding microglial metabolic pathways under physiological and pathological circumtances. We will then discuss how metabolic reprogramming can orchestrate microglial response to a variety of central nervous system pathologies. Finally, we highlight how manipulating metabolic pathways can reprogram microglia towards beneficial functions, and illustrate the therapeutic potential for inflammation-related neurological diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105290
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Glycolysis
  • Inflammation
  • Metabolism
  • Microglia
  • Oxidative phosphorylation
  • Reprogramming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology


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