Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, NADPH, and cell survival

IUBMB Life. 2012 May;64(5):362-9. doi: 10.1002/iub.1017. Epub 2012 Mar 20.


Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) is the rate-limiting enzyme of the pentose phosphate pathway. Many scientists think that the roles and regulation of G6PD in physiology and pathophysiology have been well established as the enzyme was first identified 80 years ago. And that G6PD has been extensively studied especially with respect to G6PD deficiency and its association with hemolysis, and with respect to the role G6PD plays in lipid metabolism. But there has been a growing understanding of the central importance of G6PD to cellular physiology as it is a major source of NADPH that is required by many essential cellular systems including the antioxidant pathways, nitric oxide synthase, NADPH oxidase, cytochrome p450 system, and others. Indeed G6PD is essential for cell survival. It has also become evident that G6PD is highly regulated by many signals that affect transcription, post-translation, intracellular location, and interactions with other protein. Pathophysiologic roles for G6PD have also been identified in such disease processes as diabetes, aldosterone-induced endothelial dysfunction, cancer, and others. It is now clear that G6PD is under complex regulatory control and of central importance to many cellular processes. In this review the biochemistry, regulatory signals, physiologic roles, and pathophysiologic roles for G6PD that have been elucidated over the past 20 years are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Survival*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / enzymology
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Glucosephosphate Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Glucosephosphate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Glucosephosphate Dehydrogenase / physiology*
  • Humans
  • NADP / metabolism
  • NADP / physiology*
  • Pentose Phosphate Pathway


  • NADP
  • Glucosephosphate Dehydrogenase