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Intermediates of Metabolism: From Bystanders to Signalling Molecules

Haas, Robert, Cucchi, Danilo, Smith, Joanne, Pucino, Valentina, Macdougall, Claire Elizabeth, Mauro, Claudio
Trends in biochemical sciences 2016 v.41 no.5 pp. 460-471
acetyl coenzyme A, biochemical pathways, cell communication, immune response, lactic acid, metabolism, metabolites, stress response, succinic acid
The integration of biochemistry into immune cell biology has contributed immensely to our understanding of immune cell function and the associated pathologies. So far, most studies have focused on the regulation of metabolic pathways during an immune response and their contribution to its success. More recently, novel signalling functions of metabolic intermediates are being discovered that might play important roles in the regulation of immunity. Here we describe the three long-known small metabolites lactate, acetyl-CoA, and succinate in the context of immunometabolic signalling. Functions of these ubiquitous molecules are largely dependent on their intra- and extracellular concentrations as well as their subcompartmental localisation. Importantly, the signalling functions of these metabolic intermediates extend beyond self-regulatory roles and include cell-to-cell communication and sensing of microenvironmental conditions to elicit stress responses and cellular adaptation.