Multi-OMICs analysis reveals metabolic and epigenetic changes associated with macrophage polarization

Mark L. Sowers, Hui Tang, Vipul K. Singh, Arshad Khan, Abhishek Mishra, Blanca I. Restrepo, Chinnaswamy Jagannath, Kangling Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Macrophages (MФ) are an essential immune cell for defense and repair that travel to different tissues and adapt based on local stimuli. A critical factor that may govern their polarization is the crosstalk between metabolism and epigenetics. However, simultaneous measurements of metabolites, epigenetics, and proteins (phenotype) have been a major technical challenge. To address this, we have developed a novel triomics approach using mass spectrometry to comprehensively analyze metabolites, proteins, and histone modifications in a single sample. To demonstrate this technique, we investigated the metabolic-epigenetic-phenotype axis following polarization of human blood–derived monocytes into either ‘proinflammatory M1-’ or ‘anti-inflammatory M2-’ MФs. We report here a complex relationship between arginine, tryptophan, glucose, and the citric acid cycle metabolism, protein and histone post-translational modifications, and human macrophage polarization that was previously not described. Surprisingly, M1-MФs had globally reduced histone acetylation levels but high levels of acetylated amino acids. This suggests acetyl-CoA was diverted, in part, toward acetylated amino acids. Consistent with this, stable isotope tracing of glucose revealed reduced usage of acetyl-CoA for histone acetylation in M1-MФs. Furthermore, isotope tracing also revealed MФs uncoupled glycolysis from the tricarboxylic acid cycle, as evidenced by poor isotope enrichment of succinate. M2-MФs had high levels of kynurenine and serotonin, which are reported to have immune-suppressive effects. Kynurenine is upstream of de novo NAD+ metabolism that is a necessary cofactor for Sirtuin-type histone deacetylases. Taken together, we demonstrate a complex interplay between metabolism and epigenetics that may ultimately influence cell phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102418
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • Macrophage, macrophage polarization, multiomics, histone modifications, epigenetics, metabolism and epigenetics, mass spectrometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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