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Metabolic sensitivity of pancreatic tumour cell apoptosis to glycogen phosphorylase inhibitor treatment


Inhibitors of glycogen breakdown regulate glucose homeostasis by limiting glucose production in diabetes. Here we demonstrate that restrained glycogen breakdown also inhibits cancer cell proliferation and induces apoptosis through limiting glucose oxidation, as well as nucleic acid and de novo fatty acid synthesis. Increasing doses (50-100 microM) of the glycogen phosphorylase inhibitor CP-320626 inhibited [1,2-(13)C(2)]glucose stable isotope substrate re-distribution among glycolysis, pentose and de novo fatty acid synthesis in MIA pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells. Limited oxidative pentose-phosphate synthesis, glucose contribution to acetyl CoA and de novo fatty acid synthesis closely correlated with decreased cell proliferation. The stable isotope-based dynamic metabolic profile of MIA cells indicated a significant dose-dependent decrease in macromolecule synthesis, which was detected at lower drug doses and before the appearance of apoptosis markers. Normal fibroblasts (CRL-1501) did not show morphological or metabolic signs of apoptosis likely due to their slow rate of growth and metabolic activity. This indicates that limiting carbon re-cycling and rapid substrate mobilisation from glycogen may be an effective and selective target site for new drug development in rapidly dividing cancer cells. In conclusion, pancreatic cancer cell growth arrest and death are closely associated with a characteristic decrease in glycogen breakdown and glucose carbon re-distribution towards RNA/DNA and fatty acids during CP-320626 treatment.

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