Review: Metabolic Control of Immune System Activation in Rheumatic Diseases.

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Metabolic pathways mediate lineage specification within the immune system through the regulation of glucose utilization, a process that generates energy in the form of ATP and synthesis of amino acids, nucleotides, and lipids to enable cell growth, proliferation, and survival. CD4+ T cells, a proinflammatory cell subset, preferentially produce ATP through glycolysis, whereas cells with an antiinflammatory lineage, such as memory and regulatory T cells, favor mitochondrial ATP generation. In conditions of metabolic stress or a shortage of nutrients, cells rely on autophagy to secure amino acids and other substrates, while survival depends on the sparing of mitochondria and maintenance of a reducing environment. The pentose phosphate pathway acts as a key gatekeeper of inflammation by supplying ribose-5-phosphate for cell proliferation and NADPH for antioxidant defenses. Increased lysosomal catabolism, accumulation of branched amino acids, glutamine, kynurenine, and histidine, and depletion of glutathione and cysteine activate the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR), an arbiter of lineage development within the innate and adaptive immune systems. Mapping the impact of susceptibility genes to metabolic pathways allows for better understanding and therapeutic targeting of disease-specific expansion of proinflammatory cells. Therapeutic approaches aimed at glutathione depletion and mTOR pathway activation appear to be safe and effective for treating lupus, while an opposing intervention may be of benefit in rheumatoid arthritis. Environmental sources of origin for metabolites within immune cells may include microbiota and plants. Thus, a better understanding of the pathways of immunometabolism could provide new insights into the pathogenesis and treatment of the rheumatic diseases.

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