T cell metabolism: new insights in systemic lupus erythematosus pathogenesis and therapy

T cell subsets are critically involved in the development of systemic autoimmunity and organ inflammation in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Each T cell subset function (such as effector, helper, memory or regulatory function) is dictated by distinct metabolic pathways requiring the availability of specific nutrients and intracellular enzymes. The activity of these enzymes or nutrient transporters influences the differentiation and function of T cells in autoimmune responses. Data are increasingly emerging on how metabolic processes control the function of various T cell subsets and how these metabolic processes are altered in SLE. Specifically, aberrant glycolysis, glutaminolysis, fatty acid and glycosphingolipid metabolism, mitochondrial hyperpolarization, oxidative stress and mTOR signalling underwrite the known function of T cell subsets in patients with SLE. A number of medications that are used in the care of patients with SLE affect cell metabolism, and the development of novel therapeutic approaches to control the activity of metabolic enzymes in T cell subsets represents a promising endeavour in the search for effective treatment of systemic autoimmune diseases.

as reported in: Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2020 Jan 16 [Epub ahead of print]