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See detailThe Mouse Brain Metabolome: Region-Specific Signatures and Response to Excitotoxic Neuronal Injury
Jäger, Christian UL; Glaab, Enrico UL; Michelucci, Alessandro UL et al

in American Journal of Pathology (2015), 185(6), 1699-1712

Neurodegeneration is a multistep process characterized by a multitude of molecular entities and their interactions. Systems' analyses, or omics approaches, have become an important tool in characterizing ... [more ▼]

Neurodegeneration is a multistep process characterized by a multitude of molecular entities and their interactions. Systems' analyses, or omics approaches, have become an important tool in characterizing this process. Although RNA and protein profiling made their entry into this field a couple of decades ago, metabolite profiling is a more recent addition. The metabolome represents a large part or all metabolites in a tissue, and gives a snapshot of its physiology. By using gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry, we analyzed the metabolic profile of brain regions of the mouse, and found that each region is characterized by its own metabolic signature. We then analyzed the metabolic profile of the mouse brain after excitotoxic injury, a mechanism of neurodegeneration implicated in numerous neurological diseases. More important, we validated our findings by measuring, histologically and molecularly, actual neurodegeneration and glial response. We found that a specific global metabolic signature, best revealed by machine learning algorithms, rather than individual metabolites, was the most robust correlate of neuronal injury and the accompanying gliosis, and this signature could serve as a global biomarker for neurodegeneration. We also observed that brain lesioning induced several metabolites with neuroprotective properties. Our results deepen the understanding of metabolic changes accompanying neurodegeneration in disease models, and could help rapidly evaluate these changes in preclinical drug studies. [less ▲]

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See detailGlucose substitution prolongs maintenance of energy homeostasis and lifespan of telomere dysfunctional mice
Missios, Pavlos; Zhou, Youan; Guachalla, Luis Miguel et al

in Nature Communications (2014)

DNA damage and telomere dysfunction shorten organismal lifespan. Here we show that oral glucose administration at advanced age increases health and lifespan of telomere dysfunctional mice. The study ... [more ▼]

DNA damage and telomere dysfunction shorten organismal lifespan. Here we show that oral glucose administration at advanced age increases health and lifespan of telomere dysfunctional mice. The study reveals that energy consumption increases in telomere dysfunctional cells resulting in enhanced glucose metabolism both in glycolysis and in the tricarboxylic acid cycle at organismal level. In ageing telomere dysfunctional mice, normal diet provides insufficient amounts of glucose thus leading to impaired energy homeostasis, catabolism, suppression of IGF-1/mTOR signalling, suppression of mitochondrial biogenesis and tissue atrophy. A glucose-enriched diet reverts these defects by activating glycolysis, mitochondrial biogenesis and oxidative glucose metabolism. The beneficial effects of glucose substitution on mitochondrial function and glucose metabolism are blocked by mTOR inhibition but mimicked by IGF-1 application. Together, these results provide the first experimental evidence that telomere dysfunction enhances the requirement of glucose substitution for the maintenance of energy homeostasis and IGF-1/mTOR-dependent mitochondrial biogenesis in ageing tissues. [less ▲]

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See detailImmune-responsive gene 1 protein links metabolism to immunity by catalyzing itaconic acid production
Michelucci, Alessandro UL; Cordes, Thekla UL; Ghelfi, Jenny UL et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2013)

Immunoresponsive gene 1 (Irg1) is highly expressed in mammalian macrophages during inflammation, but its biological function has not yet been elucidated. Here, we identify Irg1 as the gene coding for an ... [more ▼]

Immunoresponsive gene 1 (Irg1) is highly expressed in mammalian macrophages during inflammation, but its biological function has not yet been elucidated. Here, we identify Irg1 as the gene coding for an enzyme producing itaconic acid (also known as methylenesuccinic acid) through the decarboxylation of cis-aconitate, a tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediate. Using a gain-and-loss-of-function approach in both mouse and human immune cells, we found Irg1 expression levels correlating with the amounts of itaconic acid, a metabolite previously proposed to have an antimicrobial effect. We purified IRG1 protein and identified its cis-aconitate decarboxylating activity in an enzymatic assay. Itaconic acid is an organic compound that inhibits isocitrate lyase, the key enzyme of the glyoxylate shunt, a pathway essential for bacterial growth under specific conditions. Here we show that itaconic acid inhibits the growth of bacteria expressing isocitrate lyase, such as Salmonella enterica and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Furthermore, Irg1 gene silencing in macrophages resulted in significantly decreased intracellular itaconic acid levels as well as significantly reduced antimicrobial activity during bacterial infections. Taken together, our results demonstrate that IRG1 links cellular metabolism with immune defense by catalyzing itaconic acid production. [less ▲]

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