Front Immunol.: co-auth.: group Fajas & Lopez-Mejia

Front Immunol. 2022 May 16;13:882867. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2022.882867. eCollection 2022.

Sex-Biased Control of Inflammation and Metabolism by a Mitochondrial Nod-Like Receptor

Tiia Snäkä 1Amel Bekkar 1Chantal Desponds 1Florence Prével 1Stéphanie Claudinot 1Nathalie Isorce 1Filipa Teixeira 1Coline Grasset 1Ioannis Xenarios 2 3Isabel C Lopez-Mejia 3Lluis Fajas 3Nicolas Fasel 1


Mitochondria regulate steroid hormone synthesis, and in turn sex hormones regulate mitochondrial function for maintaining cellular homeostasis and controlling inflammation. This crosstalk can explain sex differences observed in several pathologies such as in metabolic or inflammatory disorders. Nod-like receptor X1 (NLRX1) is a mitochondria-associated innate receptor that could modulate metabolic functions and attenuates inflammatory responses. Here, we showed that in an infectious model with the human protozoan parasite, Leishmania guyanensis, NLRX1 attenuated inflammation in females but not in male mice. Analysis of infected female and male bone marrow derived macrophages showed both sex- and genotype-specific differences in both inflammatory and metabolic profiles with increased type I interferon production, mitochondrial respiration, and glycolytic rate in Nlrx1-deficient female BMDMs in comparison to wild-type cells, while no differences were observed between males. Transcriptomics of female and male BMDMs revealed an altered steroid hormone signaling in Nlrx1-deficient cells, and a “masculinization” of Nlrx1-deficient female BMDMs. Thus, our findings suggest that NLRX1 prevents uncontrolled inflammation and metabolism in females and therefore may contribute to the sex differences observed in infectious and inflammatory diseases.

Keywords: inflammation; innate immunity; metabolism; nod-like receptor X1; sex.