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Metabolic characterisation of THP-1 macrophage polarisation using LC–MS-based metabolite profiling

Abuawad, Alaa; Mbadugha, Chidimma; Ghaemmaghami, Amir M.; Kim, Dong-Hyun

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Alaa Abuawad

Chidimma Mbadugha


INTRODUCTION: Macrophages constitute a heterogeneous population of functionally distinct cells involved in several physiological and pathological processes. They display remarkable plasticity by changing their phenotype and function in response to environmental cues representing a spectrum of different functional phenotypes. The so-called M1 and M2 macrophages are often considered as representative of pro- and anti-inflammatory ends of such spectrum. Metabolomics approach is a powerful tool providing important chemical information about the cellular phenotype of living systems, and the changes in their metabolic pathways in response to various perturbations. OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to characterise M1 and M2 phenotypes in THP-1 macrophagesin order to identify characteristic metabolites of each polarisation state. METHODS: Herein, untargeted liquid chromatography (LC)-mass spectrometry (MS)-based metabolite profiling was applied to characterise the metabolic profile of M1-like and M2-like THP-1 macrophages. RESULTS: The results showed that M1 and M2 macrophages have distinct metabolic profiles. Sphingolipid and pyrimidine metabolism was significantly changed in M1 macrophages whereas arginine, proline, alanine, aspartate and glutamate metabolism was significantly altered in M2 macrophages. CONCLUSION: This study represents successful application of LC-MS metabolomics approach to characterise M1 and M2 macrophages providing functional readouts that show unique metabolic signature for each phenotype. These data could contribute to a better understanding of M1 and M2 functional properties and could pave the way for developing new therapeutics targeting different immune diseases.


Abuawad, A., Mbadugha, C., Ghaemmaghami, A. M., & Kim, D. (2020). Metabolic characterisation of THP-1 macrophage polarisation using LC–MS-based metabolite profiling. Metabolomics, 16(3), Article 33.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 24, 2020
Online Publication Date Feb 29, 2020
Publication Date Feb 29, 2020
Deposit Date Mar 6, 2020
Publicly Available Date Mar 6, 2020
Journal Metabolomics
Electronic ISSN 1573-3890
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Issue 3
Article Number 33
Keywords Clinical Biochemistry; Biochemistry; Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Received: 22 June 2019; Accepted: 24 February 2020; First Online: 29 February 2020; : ; : There are no conflicts to declare.


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