, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 31-46

Regulation of the pentose phosphate pathway in human astrocytes and gliomas

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Several aspects of the regulation of the pentose phosphate pathway were examined in cultured normal human cortical astrocytes and gliomas of pathological grades I-IV. The generation of radiolabeled CO2 from [l-14C]glucose by the oxidative arm of the pentose phosphate pathway is a saturable process and has a maximum flux rate of 8–9 nmol/hr/mg cell protein. The flux can be blocked by the glycolytic inhibitor iodoacetamide but is unaffected by agents which inhibit oxidative phosphorylation. The magnitude of the pentose phosphate flux is directly related to the glioma grade. Grade IV gliomas (glioblastoma) show a pentose phosphate flux rate of approximately 4% of the total glucose flux. The flux rate can be increased by pharmacological agents which decrease the NADPH/NADP+ ratio. Both the activity and the regulation of glioma glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDH) are altered in high-grade gliomas. While the affinity constants for cofactors in whole homogenates were not significantly different in glioma or normal astrocyte homogenates, normal astrocytes have a lower Km for glucose-6-phosphate and a G6PDH activity which is 10-fold greater than that of gliomas. NADPH is a powerful regulator of G6PDH activity in the normal astrocytes and in gliomas. At a NADPH/NADP+ ratio of 7:1 the normal astrocyte G6PDH is entirely inhibited, while the glioma enzyme is only 70% inhibited even at a ratio of20: 1. Increased metabolic flux through the oxidative arm of the pentose phosphate pathway is apparently due to an altered form of G6PDH.