Distinct metabolic pathways mediate regulatory T cell differentiation and function.
Hashimoto H., McCallion O., Kempkes RWM., Hester J., Issa F.
Investigation of the cellular metabolic pathways of immune cells, or immunometabolism, is a field of increasing interest. An understanding of immunometabolism provides routes to modifying T cell function for therapeutic purposes. Here, we review immunometabolism with a specific focus on regulatory T cells (Tregs). While T cells are known to switch their metabolic profile from oxidative phosphorylation to aerobic glycolysis upon activation, in vitro-induced Tregs display alternate metabolic characteristics which may be related to their specialised suppressive function. Recent data suggest that the preferential pathways employed by Tregs differ in vivo and ex vivo. Metabolic 'harshness', particularly the deterioration of glycolysis, positively affects Treg differentiation and function, while negatively correlating with Treg clonal expansion and migratory capacity. These context-dependent findings provide new insights into the behaviour of Tregs with implications for both tumour immunology and autoimmunity. This review examines the field in detail, offering an overview of our current understanding of Treg immunometabolism.