Itaconic acid indicates cellular but not systemic immune system activation

Johannes Meiser, Lisa Kraemer, Christian Jaeger, Henning Madry, Andreas Link, Philipp M. Lepper, Karsten Hiller, Jochen G. Schneider*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Itaconic acid is produced by mammalian leukocytes upon pro-inflammatory activation. It appears to inhibit bacterial growth and to rewire the metabolism of the host cell by inhibiting succinate dehydrogenase. Yet, it is unknown whether itaconic acid acts only intracellularly, locally in a paracrine fashion, or whether it is even secreted from the inflammatory cells at meaningful levels in peripheral blood of patients with severe inflammation or sepsis. The aim of this study was to determine the release rate of itaconic acid from pro-inflammatory activated macrophages in vitro and to test for the abundance of itaconic acid in bodyfluids of patients suffering from acute inflammation. We demonstrate that excretion of itaconic acid happens at a low rate and that it cannot be detected in significant amounts in plasma or urine of septic patients or in liquid from bronchial lavage of patients with pulmonary inflammation. We conclude that itaconic acid may serve as a pro-inflammatory marker in immune cells but that it does not qualify as a biomarker in the tested body fluids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32098-32107
Number of pages10
Issue number63
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomarker
  • Immunology
  • Inflammation
  • Itaconic acid
  • Metabolism
  • Sepsis


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