Tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA) is a series of chemical reactions in aerobic organisms used to generate energy via the oxidation of acetyl-CoA derived from carbohydrates, fatty acids, and proteins. In the eukaryotic system, the TCA cycle completely occurs in mitochondria, while the intermediates of the TCA cycle are retained in mitochondria due to their polarity and hydrophilicity. Under conditions of cell stress, mitochondria become disrupted and release their contents, which act as danger signals in the cytosol. Of note, the TCA cycle intermediates may also leak from dysfunctioning mitochondria and regulate cellular processes. Increasing evidence shows that the metabolites of the TCA cycle are substantially involved in the regulation of immune responses. In this review, we aimed to provide a comprehensive systematic overview of the molecular mechanisms of each TCA cycle intermediate that may play key roles in regulating cellular immunity in cell stress and discuss their implications for immune activation and suppression.
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