6PGD inhibition sensitizes hepatocellular carcinoma to chemotherapy via AMPK activation and metabolic reprogramming.


Department of Medical Laboratory, Hubei Cancer Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science Technology, Wuhan, China. Electronic address: [Email]


Better understanding of the molecular mechanism involved in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) progression is essential for the development of therapeutic strategies to overcome chemoresistance in HCC patients. In this work, we show that 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase (6PGD), a key enzyme of the oxidative pentose phosphate pathway, is important for HCC growth and survival. Compared to normal liver tissues, we demonstrate that 6PGD expression is upregulated in HCC tissues. 6PGD overexpression increases 6PGD activity and promotes growth in normal liver cells. In contrast, targeting 6PGD using both genetic and pharmacological approaches inhibits HCC growth and survival. Combination of chemotherapeutic agents with 6PGD inhibition achieves greater efficacy in inhibiting HCC growth and survival than chemotherapeutic agent alone. We further show that inhibition of 6PGD activates AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and acetyl-coenzyme A carboxylase 1 (ACC1), and decreases level of NADPH/NAD + and NADH in HCC, leading to SIRT1 activity reduction and oxidative stress. Conversely, AMPK depletion significantly abolishes the effects of physcion (a selective small-molecule 6PGD inhibitor) in decreasing NADPH/NAD + ratio, growth and survival, confirming the role of AMPK as the relevant upstream activator with 6PGD inhibition in HCC cells. Our work is the first to demonstrate the upregulation of 6PGD and its critical involvement in growth and survival in HCC. Our findings suggest 6PGD as a promising therapeutic target to overcome chemoresistance in HCC.


6PGD,AMPK,HCC chemoresistance,NADPH metabolism,