Therapeutic applications of dichloroacetate and the role of glutathione transferase zeta-1

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Abstract

Dichloroacetate (DCA) has several therapeutic applications based on its pharmacological property of inhibiting pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase. DCA has been used to treat inherited mitochondrial disorders that result in lactic acidosis, as well as pulmonary hypertension and several different solid tumors, the latter through its ability to reverse the Warburg effect in cancer cells and restore aerobic glycolysis. The main clinically limiting toxicity is reversible peripheral neuropathy. Although administration of high doses to rodents can result in liver cancer, there is no evidence that DCA is a human carcinogen. In all studied species, including humans, DCA has the interesting property of inhibiting its own metabolism upon repeat dosing, resulting in alteration of its pharmacokinetics. The first step in DCA metabolism is conversion to glyoxylate catalyzed by glutathione transferase zeta 1 (GSTZ1), for which DCA is a mechanism-based inactivator. The rate of GSTZ1 inactivation by DCA is influenced by age, GSTZ1 haplotype and cellular concentrations of chloride. The effect of DCA on its own metabolism complicates the selection of an effective dose with minimal side effects.

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