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Nutr Res. 2008 Nov;28(11):775-82. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2008.09.007.

Ribose enhances retinoic acid-induced differentiation of HL-60 cells.

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  • 1Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA 30909, USA.


Ribose, a critical building block for nucleotides, plays an important role in energy metabolism, transcription, translation, and second messenger systems. This 5-carbon sugar, synthesized from glucose via the pentose phosphate pathway, has a rate-limiting step at glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase. Therefore, we hypothesized that when cells are required to proliferate or differentiate, as in an immune response, the requirement for D-ribose may be greater than what could be supplied by the synthetic pathway. We hypothesized that providing an exogenous source of D-ribose during cell differentiation will enhance the process of differentiation. We used a retinoic acid-induced HL-60 cell differentiation culture as a model of neutrophil maturation. The addition of 10 to 25 mmol/L D-ribose was shown to reduce cell proliferation and move the cell population toward apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner. The expression of a cell surface marker representing maturity (CD11b) significantly increased and a cell surface marker indicative of immaturity (CD117) significantly decreased. Functionally, the cells had a greater oxidative burst function dependent on time and dose. The mechanism by which ribose enhances HL-60 cell differentiation is not known; however, as adenosine triphosphate levels did not change, adenosine triphosphate is not thought to be involved. We conclude that in this cell culture model, ribose supplementation enhanced cellular differentiation and function. Thus, ribose might be conditionally essential during time of higher need as in an immune response.

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