During infection, hepatocytes must undergo a reprioritization of metabolism, termed metabolic reprogramming. Hepatic metabolic reprogramming in response to infection begins within hours of infection, suggesting a mechanism closely linked to pathogen recognition. Following injection with polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid, a mimic of viral infection, a robust hepatic innate immune response could be seen involving the TNFα pathway at 2 h. Repeated doses led to the adoption of Warburg-like metabolism in the liver as determined by in vivo metabolic imaging, expression analyses, and metabolomics. Hepatic macrophages, Kupffer cells, were able to induce Warburg-like metabolism in hepatocytes in vitro via TNFα. Eliminating macrophages in vivo or blocking TNFα in vitro or in vivo resulted in abrogation of the metabolic phenotype, establishing an immune-metabolic axis in hepatic metabolic reprogramming. Overall, we suggest that macrophages, as early sensors of pathogens, instruct hepatocytes via TNFα to undergo metabolic reprogramming to cope with challenges to homeostasis initiated by infection. This work not only addresses a key component of end-organ physiology, but also raises questions about the side effects of biologics in the treatment of inflammatory diseases.
• Hepatocytes develop Warburg-like metabolism in vivo during viral infection.
• Macrophage TNFα promotes expression of glycolytic enzymes in hepatocytes.
• Blocking this immune-metabolic axis abrogates Warburg-like metabolism in the liver.
• Implications for patients being treated for inflammatory diseases with biologics.
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The authors would like to recognize the Animal facility of the NHGRI for its help in executing this work.
This work was supported by the intramural research program of the National Institutes of Health (HG200381-03).
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The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.
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Tarasenko, T.N., Jestin, M., Matsumoto, S. et al. Macrophage derived TNFα promotes hepatic reprogramming to Warburg-like metabolism. J Mol Med 97, 1231–1243 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00109-019-01786-w
- Metabolic reprogramming
- Tumor necrosis factor alpha
- Warburg-like metabolism