AMPK-mediated increase of glycolysis as an adaptive response to oxidative stress in human cells: implication of the cell survival in mitochondrial diseases

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 Feb;1822(2):233-47. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2011.09.014. Epub 2011 Oct 6.


We report that the energy metabolism shifts to anaerobic glycolysis as an adaptive response to oxidative stress in the primary cultures of skin fibroblasts from patients with MERRF syndrome. In order to unravel the molecular mechanism involved in the alteration of energy metabolism under oxidative stress, we treated normal human skin fibroblasts (CCD-966SK cells) with sub-lethal doses of H(2)O(2). The results showed that several glycolytic enzymes including hexokinase type II (HK II), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and glucose transporter 1 (GLUT1) were up-regulated in H(2)O(2)-treated normal skin fibroblasts. In addition, the glycolytic flux of skin fibroblasts was increased by H(2)O(2) in a dose-dependent manner through the activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and phosphorylation of its downstream target, phosphofructokinase 2 (PFK2). Moreover, we found that the AMPK-mediated increase of glycolytic flux by H(2)O(2) was accompanied by an increase of intracellular NADPH content. By treatment of the cells with glycolysis inhibitors, an AMPK inhibitor or genetic knockdown of AMPK, respectively, the H(2)O(2)-induced increase of NADPH was abrogated leading to the overproduction of intracellular ROS and cell death. Significantly, we showed that phosphorylation levels of AMPK and glycolysis were up-regulated to confer an advantage of survival for MERRF skin fibroblasts. Taken together, our findings suggest that the increased production of NADPH by AMPK-mediated increase of the glycolytic flux contributes to the adaptation of MERRF skin fibroblasts and H(2)O(2)-treated normal skin fibroblasts to oxidative stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Death / physiology
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Respiration / drug effects
  • Cell Respiration / physiology
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1 / metabolism
  • Glycolysis
  • Hexokinase / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / pharmacology
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • MERRF Syndrome / metabolism*
  • MERRF Syndrome / pathology*
  • NADP / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Phosphofructokinase-2 / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects
  • Young Adult


  • Antioxidants
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • NADP
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase
  • Hexokinase
  • Phosphofructokinase-2
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases