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Fibroblast-Like Synoviocytes Glucose Metabolism as a Therapeutic Target in Rheumatoid Arthritis


Metabolomic studies show that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with metabolic disruption that may be therapeutically targetable. Among them, glucose metabolism and glycolytic intermediaries seem to have an important role in fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) phenotype and might contribute to early stage disease pathogenesis. RA FLS are transformed from quiescent to aggressive and metabolically active cells and several works have shown that glucose metabolism is increased in activated FLS. Glycolytic inhibitors reduce not only FLS aggressive phenotype in vitro but also decrease bone and cartilage damage in several murine models of arthritis. Essential glycolytic enzymes, including hexokinase 2 (HK2) and 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-biphosphatase (PFKFB) enzymes, have important roles in FLS behavior. Of interest, HK2 is an inducible enzyme present only in the inflamed rheumatic tissues compared to osteoarthritis synovium. It is a contributor to glucose metabolism that could be selectively targeted without compromising systemic homeostasis as a novel approach for combination therapy independent of systemic immunosuppression. More information about metabolic targets that do not compromise global glucose metabolism in normal cells is needed.

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