Innate and adaptive immune cells from myeloid and lymphoid lineages resolve host infection or cell stress by mounting an appropriate and durable immune response. Upon sensing of cellular insults, immune cells become activated and undergo rapid and efficient functional changes to unleash biosynthesis of macromolecules, proliferation, survival, and trafficking; unprecedented events among other mammalian cells within the host. These changes must become operational within restricted timing to rapidly control the insult and to avoid tissue damage and pathogen spread. Such changes occur at high energy cost. Recent advances have established that plasticity of immune functions occurs in distinct metabolic stress features. Evidence has accumulated to indicate that specific metabolic signatures dictate appropriate immune functions in both innate and adaptive immunity. Importantly, recent studies have shed light on whether successfully manipulating particular metabolic targets is sufficient to modulate immune function and polarization, thereby offering strong therapeutic potential for various common immune-mediated diseases, including inflammation and autoimmune-associated diseases and cancer. In this review, we detail how cellular metabolism controls immune function and phenotype within T cells and macrophages particularly, and the distinct molecular metabolic programming and targets instrumental to engage this regulation.
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