Publications

7 Publications visible to you, out of a total of 7

Abstract (Expand)

Metabolic reprogramming is a characteristic feature of cancer cells, but there is no unique metabolic program for all tumors. Genetic and gene expression studies have revealed heterogeneous inter- and intratumor patterns of metabolic enzymes and membrane transporters. The functional implications of this heterogeneity remain often elusive. Here, we applied a systems biology approach to gain a comprehensive and quantitative picture of metabolic changes in individual hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We used protein intensity profiles determined by mass spectrometry in samples of 10 human HCCs and the adjacent noncancerous tissue to calibrate Hepatokin1, a complex mathematical model of liver metabolism. We computed the 24-h profile of 18 metabolic functions related to carbohydrate, lipid, and nitrogen metabolism. There was a general tendency among the tumors toward downregulated glucose uptake and glucose release albeit with large intertumor variability. This finding calls into question that the Warburg effect dictates the metabolic phenotype of HCC. All tumors comprised elevated beta-oxidation rates. Urea synthesis was found to be consistently downregulated but without compromising the tumor's capacity for ammonia detoxification owing to increased glutamine synthesis. The largest intertumor heterogeneity was found for the uptake and release of lactate and the size of the cellular glycogen content. In line with the observed metabolic heterogeneity, the individual HCCs differed largely in their vulnerability against pharmacological treatment with metformin. Taken together, our approach provided a comprehensive and quantitative characterization of HCC metabolism that may pave the way for a computational a priori assessment of pharmacological therapies targeting metabolic processes of HCC.

Authors: N. Berndt, J. Eckstein, N. Heucke, T. Wuensch, R. Gajowski, M. Stockmann, D. Meierhofer, H. G. Holzhutter

Date Published: 8th Oct 2020

Publication Type: Journal

Abstract (Expand)

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Zone-dependent differences in the expression of metabolic enzymes along the porto-central axis of the acinus are a long-known feature of liver metabolism. A prominent example is the preferential localization of the enzyme glutamine synthetase in pericentral hepatocytes, where it converts potentially toxic ammonia to the valuable amino acid glutamine. However, with the exception of a few key regulatory enzymes, a comprehensive and quantitative assessment of zonal differences in the abundance of metabolic enzymes and much more importantly, an estimation of the associated functional differences between portal and central hepatocytes is missing thus far. APPROACH & RESULTS: We addressed this problem by establishing a new method for the separation of periportal and pericentral hepatocytes that yields sufficiently pure fractions of both cell populations. Quantitative shotgun proteomics identified hundreds of differentially expressed enzymes in the two cell populations. We used zone-specific proteomics data for scaling of the maximal activities to generate portal and central instantiations of a comprehensive kinetic model of central hepatic metabolism (Hepatokin1). CONCLUSION: The model simulations revealed significant portal-to-central differences in almost all metabolic pathways involving carbohydrates, fatty acids, amino acids and detoxification.

Authors: N. Berndt, E. Kolbe, R. Gajowski, J. Eckstein, F. Ott, D. Meierhofer, H. G. Holzhutter, M. Matz-Soja

Date Published: 14th Apr 2020

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

The principle of dynamic liver function breath tests is founded on the administration of a (13)C-labeled drug and subsequent monitoring of (13)CO2 in the breath, quantified as time series delta over natural baseline (13)CO2 (DOB) liberated from the drug during hepatic CYP-dependent detoxification. One confounding factor limiting the diagnostic value of such tests is that only a fraction of the liberated (13)CO2 is immediately exhaled, while another fraction is taken up by body compartments from which it returns with delay to the plasma. The aims of this study were to establish a novel variant of the methacetin-based breath test LiMAx that allows to estimate and to eliminate the confounding effect of systemic (13)CO2 distribution on the DOB curve and thus enables a more reliable assessment of the hepatic detoxification capacity compared with the conventional LiMAx test. We designed a new test variant (named "2DOB") consisting of two consecutive phases. Phase 1 is initiated by the intravenous administration of (13)C-bicarbonate. Phase 2 starts about 30 min later with the intravenous administration of the (13)C-labelled test drug. Using compartment modelling, the resulting 2-phasic DOB curve yields the rate constants for the irreversible elimination and the reversible exchange of plasma (13)CO2 with body compartments (phase 1) and for the detoxification and exchange of the drug with body compartments (phase 2). We carried out the 2DOB test with the test drug (13)C-methacetin in 16 subjects with chronic liver pathologies and 22 normal subjects, who also underwent the conventional LiMAx test. Individual differences in the systemic CO2 kinetics can lead to deviations up to a factor of 2 in the maximum of DOB curves (coefficient of variation CV approximately 0.2) which, in particular, may hamper the discrimination between subjects with normal or mildly impaired detoxification capacities. The novel test revealed that a significant portion of the drug is not immediately metabolized, but transiently taken up into a storage compartment. Intriguingly, not only the hepatic detoxification rate but also the storage capacity of the drug, turned out to be indicative for a normal liver function. We thus used both parameters to define a scoring function which yielded an excellent disease classification (AUC = 0.95) and a high correlation with the MELD score (RSpearman = 0.92). The novel test variant 2DOB promises a significant improvement in the assessment of impaired hepatic detoxification capacity. The suitability of the test for the reliable characterization of the natural history of chronic liver diseases (fatty liver-fibrosis-cirrhosis) has to be assessed in further studies.

Authors: H. G. Holzhutter, T. Wuensch, R. Gajowski, N. Berndt, S. Bulik, D. Meierhofer, M. Stockmann

Date Published: 6th Feb 2020

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

The Hedgehog (Hh) and Wnt/β-Catenin (Wnt) cascades are morphogen pathways whose pronounced influence on adult liver metabolism has been identified in recent years. How both pathways communicate and control liver metabolic functions are largely unknown. Detecting core components of Wnt and Hh signaling and mathematical modeling showed that both pathways in healthy liver act largely complementary to each other in the pericentral (Wnt) and the periportal zone (Hh) and communicate mainly by mutual repression. The Wnt/Hh module inversely controls the spatiotemporal operation of various liver metabolic pathways, as revealed by transcriptome, proteome, and metabolome analyses. Shifting the balance to Wnt (activation) or Hh (inhibition) causes pericentralization and periportalization of liver functions, respectively. Thus, homeostasis of the Wnt/Hh module is essential for maintaining proper liver metabolism and to avoid the development of certain metabolic diseases. With caution due to minor species-specific differences, these conclusions may hold for human liver as well.

Authors: Erik Kolbe, Susanne Aleithe, Christiane Rennert, Luise Spormann, Fritzi Ott, David Meierhofer, Robert Gajowski, Claus Stöpel, Stefan Hoehme, Michael Kücken, Lutz Brusch, Michael Seifert, Witigo von Schoenfels, Clemens Schafmayer, Mario Brosch, Ute Hofmann, Georg Damm, Daniel Seehofer, Jochen Hampe, Rolf Gebhardt, Madlen Matz-Soja

Date Published: 1st Dec 2019

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of primary liver cancer in adults and the most common cause of death in people with cirrhosis. While previous metabolic studies of HCC have mainly focused on the glucose metabolism (Warburg effect), less attention has been paid to tumor-specific features of the lipid metabolism. Here, we applied a computational approach to analyze major pathways of fatty acid utilization in individual HCC. To this end, we used protein intensity profiles of eleven human HCCs to parameterize tumor-specific kinetic models of cellular lipid metabolism including formation, enlargement, and degradation of lipid droplets (LDs). Our analysis reveals significant inter-tumor differences in the lipid metabolism. The majority of HCCs show a reduced uptake of fatty acids and decreased rate of beta-oxidation, however, some HCCs display a completely different metabolic phenotype characterized by high rates of beta-oxidation. Despite reduced fatty acid uptake in the majority of HCCs, the content of triacylglycerol is significantly enlarged compared to the tumor-adjacent tissue. This is due to tumor-specific expression profiles of regulatory proteins decorating the surface of LDs and controlling their turnover. Our simulations suggest that HCCs characterized by a very high content of triglycerides comprise regulatory peculiarities that render them susceptible to selective drug targeting without affecting healthy tissue.

Authors: N. Berndt, J. Eckstein, N. Heucke, R. Gajowski, M. Stockmann, D. Meierhofer, H. G. Holzhutter

Date Published: 27th May 2019

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

The epidemic increase of non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases (NAFLD) requires a deeper understanding of the regulatory circuits controlling the response of liver metabolism to nutritional challenges, medical drugs, and genetic enzyme variants. As in vivo studies of human liver metabolism are encumbered with serious ethical and technical issues, we developed a comprehensive biochemistry-based kinetic model of the central liver metabolism including the regulation of enzyme activities by their reactants, allosteric effectors, and hormone-dependent phosphorylation. The utility of the model for basic research and applications in medicine and pharmacology is illustrated by simulating diurnal variations of the metabolic state of the liver at various perturbations caused by nutritional challenges (alcohol), drugs (valproate), and inherited enzyme disorders (galactosemia). Using proteomics data to scale maximal enzyme activities, the model is used to highlight differences in the metabolic functions of normal hepatocytes and malignant liver cells (adenoma and hepatocellular carcinoma).

Authors: N. Berndt, S. Bulik, I. Wallach, T. Wunsch, M. Konig, M. Stockmann, D. Meierhofer, H. G. Holzhutter

Date Published: 21st Jun 2018

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic liver disease in children and adolescents today. In comparison to adult disease, pediatric NAFLD may show a periportal localization, which is associated with advanced fibrosis. This study aimed to assess the role of genetic risk variants for histologic disease pattern and severity in childhood NAFLD. METHODS: We studied 14 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in a cohort of 70 adolescents with biopsy-proven NAFLD. Genotype was compared to an adult control cohort (n=200) and analyzed in relation to histologic disease severity and liver tissue proteomics. RESULTS: Three of the 14 SNPs were significantly associated with pediatric NAFLD after FDR adjustment, rs738409 (PNPLA3, P=2.80x10(-06) ), rs1044498 (ENPP1, P=0.0091) and rs780094 (GCKR, P=0.0281). The severity of steatosis was critically associated with rs738409 (OR=3.25; 95% CI: 1.72-6.52, FDR adjusted P=0.0070). The strongest variants associated with severity of fibrosis were rs1260326, rs780094 (both GCKR) and rs659366 (UCP2). PNPLA3 was associated with a portal pattern of steatosis, inflammation and fibrosis. Proteome profiling revealed decreasing levels of GCKR protein with increasing carriage of the rs1260326/rs780094 minor alleles and down-regulation of the retinol pathway in rs738409 G/G carriers. Computational metabolic modelling highlighted functional relevance of PNPLA3, GCKR and UCP2 for NAFLD development. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides evidence for the role of PNPLA3 as a determinant of portal NAFLD localization and severity of portal fibrosis in children and adolescents, the risk variant being associated with an impaired hepatic retinol metabolism. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Authors: C. A. Hudert, S. Selinski, B. Rudolph, H. Blaker, C. Loddenkemper, R. Thielhorn, N. Berndt, K. Golka, C. Cadenas, J. Reinders, S. Henning, P. Bufler, P. L. M. Jansen, H. G. Holzhutter, D. Meierhofer, J. G. Hengstler, S. Wiegand

Date Published: 18th Jan 2018

Publication Type: Not specified

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