Background: Formate is a one-carbon molecule at the crossroad between cellular and whole body metabolism, between host and microbiome metabolism, and between nutrition and toxicology. This centrality confers formate with a key role in human physiology and disease that is currently unappreciated.
Scope of review: Here we review the scientific literature on formate metabolism, highlighting cellular pathways, whole body metabolism, and interactions with the diet and the gut microbiome. We will discuss the relevance of formate metabolism in the context of embryonic development, cancer, obesity, immunometabolism, and neurodegeneration.
Major conclusions: We will conclude with an outlook of some open questions bringing formate metabolism into the spotlight.