Macrophages undergo profound metabolic reprogramming to join key immunoregulatory functions, which can be initiated by pattern recognition receptors. TREM2, a macrophage phagocytic receptor, plays pivotal roles in sepsis by enhancing bacterial clearance, which is associated with regulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. However, how intracellular ROS participate in TREM2-mediated bactericidal activity remains unclear. This study was designed to investigate the organelle source and biological activity of ROS in the context of TREM2-mediated immune defense during E.coli infection. Bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDMs) were transfected with TREM2-overexpressing adenoviruses or control viruses, and challenged with E.coli. The BMDMs were administered to mouse models with local E.coli infection. Additionally, monocytic TREM2 expression, NOX2 levels and pyroptosis were detected in patients with bacterial sepsis. General ROS production was found to be comparable between TREM2-overexpressing and control BMDMs upon E.coli challenge. The deficiency of Nox2 led to impaired phagosome degradation and lack of bactericidal ability and abolished TREM2-mediated protective activity against pulmonary E.coli infection. Overexpression of TREM2 suppressed mitochondrial ROS generation, inhibited NLRP3/caspase-1 inflammasome activation, and finally protected BMDMs from gasdermin D-mediated pyroptosis during pulmonary E.coli infection. The protective role of TREM2 was further confirmed in mice with abdominal E.coli infection. Moreover, monocytic TREM2 expression was positively correlated with NOX2 levels and negatively correlated with pyroptosis and disease severity in patients with bacterial sepsis. Collectively, TREM2 controls macrophage immune functions by fine-tuning ROS generation and enhances the host defense against bacterial infection. Our data suggest that TREM2 is a promising candidate target for sepsis therapy.
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