Glutamine metabolism in diseases associated with mitochondrial dysfunction

Rebecca L. Bornstein, Michael T. Mulholland, Margaret M. Sedensky, Phil G. Morgan, Simon C. Johnson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Mitochondrial dysfunction can arise from genetic defects or environmental exposures and impact a wide range of biological processes. Among these are metabolic pathways involved in glutamine catabolism, anabolism, and glutamine-glutamate cycling. In recent years, altered glutamine metabolism has been found to play important roles in the pathologic consequences of mitochondrial dysfunction. Glutamine is a pleiotropic molecule, not only providing an alternate carbon source to glucose in certain conditions, but also playing unique roles in cellular communication in neurons and astrocytes. Glutamine consumption and catabolic flux can be significantly altered in settings of genetic mitochondrial defects or exposure to mitochondrial toxins, and alterations to glutamine metabolism appears to play a particularly significant role in neurodegenerative diseases. These include primary mitochondrial diseases like Leigh syndrome (subacute necrotizing encephalopathy) and MELAS (mitochondrial myopathy with encephalopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes), as well as complex age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Pharmacologic interventions targeting glutamine metabolizing and catabolizing pathways appear to provide some benefits in cell and animal models of these diseases, indicating glutamine metabolism may be a clinically relevant target. In this review, we discuss glutamine metabolism, mitochondrial disease, the impact of mitochondrial dysfunction on glutamine metabolic processes, glutamine in neurodegeneration, and candidate targets for therapeutic intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103887
JournalMolecular and Cellular Neurosciences
Early online date15 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023

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