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Dimethyl fumarate targets GAPDH and aerobic glycolysis to modulate immunity

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Science  27 Apr 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6387, pp. 449-453
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan4665

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Immunometabolism as therapeutic target

Dimethyl fumarate (DMF) is an immunomodulatory compound used to treat multiple sclerosis and psoriasis whose mechanisms of action remain only partially understood. Kornberg et al. found that DMF and its metabolite, monomethyl fumarate, succinate the glycolytic enzyme GAPDH (see the Perspective by Matsushita and Pearce). After DMF treatment, GAPDH was inactivated, and aerobic glycolysis was down-regulated in both myeloid and lymphoid cells. This resulted in down-modulated immune responses because inflammatory immune-cell subsets require aerobic glycolysis. Thus, metabolism can serve as a viable therapeutic target in autoimmune disease.

Science, this issue p. 449; see also p. 377

Abstract

Activated immune cells undergo a metabolic switch to aerobic glycolysis akin to the Warburg effect, thereby presenting a potential therapeutic target in autoimmune disease. Dimethyl fumarate (DMF), a derivative of the Krebs cycle intermediate fumarate, is an immunomodulatory drug used to treat multiple sclerosis and psoriasis. Although its therapeutic mechanism remains uncertain, DMF covalently modifies cysteine residues in a process termed succination. We found that DMF succinates and inactivates the catalytic cysteine of the glycolytic enzyme glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) in mice and humans, both in vitro and in vivo. It thereby down-regulates aerobic glycolysis in activated myeloid and lymphoid cells, which mediates its anti-inflammatory effects. Our results provide mechanistic insight into immune modulation by DMF and represent a proof of concept that aerobic glycolysis is a therapeutic target in autoimmunity.

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