Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is a common genetic disorder characterized by bilateral renal cyst formation.
Recent identification of signaling cascades deregulated in ADPKD has led to the initiation of several clinical trials, but an approved therapy is still lacking. Using a metabolomic approach, we identify a pathogenic pathway in this disease that can be safely targeted for therapy. We show that mutation of PKD1 results in enhanced glycolysis in cells in a mouse model of PKD and in kidneys from humans with ADPKD.
Glucose deprivation resulted in lower proliferation and higher apoptotic rates in PKD1-mutant cells than in nondeprived cells. Notably, two distinct PKD mouse models treated with 2-deoxyglucose (2DG), to inhibit glycolysis, had lower kidney weight, volume, cystic index and proliferation rates as compared to nontreated mice.
These metabolic alterations depend on the extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK) pathway acting in a dual manner by inhibiting the liver kinase B1 (LKB1)-AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) axis on the one hand while activating the mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1)-glycolytic cascade on the other.
Enhanced metabolic rates further inhibit AMPK. Forced activation of AMPK acts in a negative feedback loop, restoring normal ERK activity.
Taken together, these data indicate that defective glucose metabolism is intimately involved in the pathobiology of ADPKD. Our findings provide a strong rationale for a new therapeutic strategy using existing drugs, either individually or in combination.