Increased glucose metabolism and ATP level in brain tissue of Huntington's disease transgenic mice

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Huntington's disease (HD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by multifarious dysfunctional alterations including mitochondrial impairment. In the present study, the formation of inclusions caused by the mutation of huntingtin protein and its relationship with changes in energy metabolism and with pathological alterations were investigated both in transgenic and 3-nitropropionic acid-treated mouse models for HD. The HD and normal mice were characterized clinically; the affected brain regions were identified by immunohistochemistry and used for biochemical analysis of the ATP-producing systems in the cytosolic and the mitochondrial compartments. In both HD models, the activities of some glycolytic enzymes were somewhat higher. By contrast, the activity of glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase was much lower in the affected region of the brain compared to that of the control. Paradoxically, at the system level, glucose conversion into lactate was enhanced in cytosolic extracts from the HD brain tissue, and the level of ATP was higher in the tissue itself. The paradox could be resolved by taking all the observed changes in glycolytic enzymes into account, ensuing an experiment-based detailed mathematical model of the glycolytic pathway. The mathematical modelling using the experimentally determined kinetic parameters of the individual enzymes and the well-established rate equations predicted the measured flux and concentrations in the case of the control. The same mathematical model with the experimentally determined altered Vmax values of the enzymes did account for an increase of glycolytic flux in the HD sample, although the extent of the increase was not predicted quantitatively. This suggested a somewhat altered regulation of this major metabolic pathway in HD tissue. We then used the mathematical model to develop a hypothesis for a new regulatory interaction that might account for the observed changes; in HD, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase may be in closer proximity (perhaps because of the binding of glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase to huntingtin) with aldolase and engage in channelling for glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate. By contrast to most of the speculation in the literature, our results suggest that the neuronal damage in HD tissue may be associated with increased energy metabolism at the tissue level leading to modified levels of various intermediary metabolites with pathological consequences.

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