Several intermediate metabolites harbour cell-signalling properties, thus, it is likely that specific metabolites enable the communication between neighbouring cells, as well as between host cells with the microbiota, pathogens, and tumour cells. Mitochondria, a source of intermediate metabolites, participate in a wide array of biological processes beyond that of ATP production, such as intracellular calcium homeostasis, cell signalling, apoptosis, regulation of immune responses, and host cell-microbiota crosstalk. In this regard, mitochondria's plasticity allows them to adapt their bioenergetics status to intra- and extra-cellular cues, and the mechanisms driving such plasticity are currently a matter of intensive research. Here, we addressed whether mitochondrial ultrastructure and activity are differentially shaped when human monocytes are exposed to an exogenous source of lactate (derived from glycolysis), succinate, and fumarate (Krebs cycle metabolic intermediates), or butyrate and acetate (short-chain fatty acids produced by intestinal microbiota). It has previously been shown that fumarate induces mitochondrial fusion, increases the mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm), and reshapes the mitochondrial cristae ultrastructure. Here, we provide evidence that, in contrast to fumarate, lactate, succinate, and butyrate induce mitochondrial fission, while acetate induces mitochondrial swelling. These traits, along with mitochondrial calcium influx kinetics and glycolytic vs. mitochondrial ATP-production rates, suggest that these metabolites differentially shape mitochondrial function, paving the way for the understanding of metabolite-induced metabolic reprogramming of monocytes and its possible use for immune-response intervention.
Krebs cycle, glycolysis, innate immunity, mitochondria, mitochondrial reprogramming, short-chain fatty acids