Koenis DS, Medzikovic L, van Loenen PB, van Weeghel M, Huveneers S, Vos M, Evers-van Gogh IJ, Van den Bossche J, Speijer D, Kim Y, Wessels L, Zelcer N, Zwart W, Kalkhoven E, de Vries CJ
Activation of macrophages by inflammatory stimuli induces reprogramming of mitochondrial metabolism to support the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and nitric oxide. Hallmarks of this metabolic rewiring are downregulation of α-ketoglutarate formation by isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) and accumulation of glutamine-derived succinate, which enhances the inflammatory response via the activity of succinate dehydrogenase (SDH). Here, we identify the nuclear receptor Nur77 (Nr4a1) as a key upstream transcriptional regulator of this pro-inflammatory metabolic switch in macrophages. Nur77-deficient macrophages fail to downregulate IDH expression and accumulate higher levels of succinate and other TCA cycle-derived metabolites in response to inflammatory stimulation in a glutamine-independent manner. Consequently, these macrophages produce more nitric oxide and pro-inflammatory cytokines in an SDH-dependent manner. In vivo, bone marrow Nur77 deficiency exacerbates atherosclerosis development and leads to increased circulating succinate levels. In summary, Nur77 induces an anti-inflammatory metabolic state in macrophages that protects against chronic inflammatory diseases such as atherosclerosis.