Germline heterozygous PTEN mutations cause subsets of Cowden syndrome (CS) and Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome (BRRS); these subsets are characterized by high risks of breast, thyroid, and other cancers and, in one subset, autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Up to 10% of individuals with PTENMUT CS, CS-like syndrome, or BRRS have germline SDHx (succinate dehydrogenase, mitochondrial complex II) variants, which modify cancer risk. PTEN contributes to metabolic reprogramming; this is a well-established role in a cancer context. Relatedly, SDH sits at the crossroad of the electron transport chain and tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, two central bioenergetic pathways. Intriguingly, PTENMUT and SDHMUT individuals have reduced SDH catalytic activity, resulting in succinate accumulation; this indicates a common genotype-independent biochemical alteration. Here, we conducted a TCA targeted metabolomics study on 511 individuals with CS, CS-like syndrome, or BRRS with various genotypes (PTEN or SDHx, mutant or wild type [WT]) and phenotypes (cancer or ASD) and a series of 187 population controls. We found consistent TCA cycle metabolite alterations in cases with various genotypes and phenotypes compared to controls, and we found unique correlations of individual metabolites with particular genotype-phenotype combinations. Notably, increased isocitrate (p = 1.2 × 10-3), but reduced citrate (p = 5.0 × 10-4), were found to be associated with breast cancer in individuals with PTENMUT/SDHxWT. Conversely, increased lactate was associated with neurodevelopmental disorders regardless of genotype (p = 9.7 × 10-3); this finding was replicated in an independent validation series (n = 171) enriched for idiopathic ASD (PTENWT, p = 5.6 × 10-4). Importantly, we identified fumarate (p = 1.9 × 10-2) as a pertinent metabolite, distinguishing individuals who develop ASD from those who develop cancer. Our observations suggest that TCA cycle metabolite alterations are germane to the pathobiology of PTEN-related CS and BRRS, as well as genotype-independent ASD, with implications for potential biomarker and/or therapeutic value.
Keywords: Krebs cycle; PTEN hamartoma tumor syndrome; autism spectrum disorder; hereditary cancer; neurodevelopmental disorders; targeted metabolomics.
Copyright © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.