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Cell Death Discov. 2019 Mar 11;5:76. doi: 10.1038/s41420-019-0156-8. eCollection 2019.

Low-dose 2-deoxyglucose and metformin synergically inhibit proliferation of human polycystic kidney cells by modulating glucose metabolism.

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Department of Nephrology, Chinese PLA General Hospital, Chinese PLA Institute of Nephrology, State Key Laboratory of Kidney Diseases, National Clinical Research Center for Kidney Diseases, Beijing Key Laboratory of Kidney Diseases, Beijing, 100853 China.
Contributed equally


Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a common hereditary kidney disease with abnormal proliferation and apoptosis of kidney cystic epithelial cells, eventually leading to chronic renal failure. Currently, there are no effective treatment methods. Similar to tumor cells, cystic epithelial cells have abnormal glycolysis and over-activation of proliferation signaling pathways. In the present study, for the first time, we investigated the effects of low-dose combinational use of 2-deoxyglucose (2-DG) and metformin (MET) on the proliferation and apoptosis in the human cystic kidney epithelial cells. Cystic epithelia cells were divided into control group, 2-DG group, MET group and 2-DG+MET group. Cell Proliferation, apoptosis and glucose metabolism were measured in each group. The results showed that low-dose combinational treatment of 2-DG and MET significantly inhibited the proliferation of renal cystic epithelial cells by suppressing the activities of PKA, mTOR and ERK signaling pathways and upregulating PI3K/Akt pathway. Combination of both drugs increased the apoptosis rates of cystic epithelial cells. Two drugs inhibited glucose metabolic phenotypes, glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation, and significantly lowered the intracellular ATP level in cystic epithelial cells. 2-DG could also neutralize excessive production of lactate (lactic acidosis) caused by MET and both drugs had complementary effect for cystic epithelial cells. These results reveal that combinational use of low-dose 2-DG and MET can markedly inhibit proliferation via modulating glucose metabolic phenotypes in human polycystic kidney epithelial cells, low-dose combinational use of both drugs can also lower the toxic effects of each drug, and is a novel strategy for future treatment of human polycystic kidney disease.

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