Michalek RD, Gerriets VA, Jacobs SR, Macintyre AN, MacIver NJ, Mason EF, Sullivan SA, Nichols AG, Rathmell JC. Cutting edge: distinct glycolytic and lipid oxidative metabolic programs are essential for effector and regulatory CD4+ T cell subsets. Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950). 2011 Mar 15;186(186). 3299-303. PMID: 21317389 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC3198034 NIHMSID: NIHMS331089.
Stimulated CD4(+) T lymphocytes can differentiate into effector T cell (Teff) or inducible regulatory T cell (Treg) subsets with specific immunological roles. We show that Teff and Treg require distinct metabolic programs to support these functions. Th1, Th2, and Th17 cells expressed high surface levels of the glucose transporter Glut1 and were highly glycolytic. Treg, in contrast, expressed low levels of Glut1 and had high lipid oxidation rates. Consistent with glycolysis and lipid oxidation promoting Teff and Treg, respectively, Teff were selectively increased in Glut1 transgenic mice and reliant on glucose metabolism, whereas Treg had activated AMP-activated protein kinase and were dependent on lipid oxidation. Importantly, AMP-activated protein kinase stimulation was sufficient to decrease Glut1 and increase Treg generation in an asthma model. These data demonstrate that CD4(+) T cell subsets require distinct metabolic programs that can be manipulated in vivo to control Treg and Teff development in inflammatory diseases.