AbstractPyruvate kinase (PK) deficiency is a rare hereditary disorder affecting red cell (RBC) glycolysis, causing changes in metabolism including a deficiency in ATP. This affects red cell homeostasis, promoting premature removal of RBCs from the circulation. In this study we characterized and evaluated the effect of AG-348, an allosteric activator of PK that is currently in clinical trials for treatment of PK deficiency, on RBCs and erythroid precursors from PK-deficient patients. In 15 patients ex vivo treatment with AG-348 resulted in increased enzymatic activity in all patient cells after 24 hours (mean increase 1.8-fold, range 1.2-3.4). ATP levels increased (mean increase 1.5-fold, range 1.0-2.2) similar to control cells (mean increase 1.6-fold, range, 1.4-1.8). Generally, PK thermostability was strongly reduced in PK-deficient RBCs. Ex vivo treatment with AG-348 increased residual activity 1.4 to >10-fold than residual activity of vehicle-treated samples. Protein analyses suggests that a sufficient level of PK protein is required for cells to respond to AG-348 treatment ex-vivo, as treatment effects were minimal in patient cells with very low or undetectable levels of PK-R. In half of the patients, ex vivo treatment with AG-348 was associated with an increase in RBC deformability. These data support the hypothesis that drug intervention with AG-348 effectively upregulates PK enzymatic activity and increases stability in PK-deficient RBCs over a broad range of PKLR genotypes. The concomitant increase in ATP levels suggests that glycolytic pathway activity may be restored. AG-348 treatment may represent an attractive way to correct the underlying pathologies of PK deficiency. (AG-348 is currently in clinical trials for the treatment of PK deficiency. ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT02476916, NCT03853798, NCT03548220, NCT03559699).
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Ferrata Storti Foundation, Pavia, Italy
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