Increased glutathione utilization augments tumor cell proliferation in Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia

Redox Biol. 2020 Sep;36:101657. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2020.101657. Epub 2020 Aug 1.


Metabolic reprogramming is a hallmark of cancer cells. In Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia (WM), the infiltration of IgM-secreting lymphoplamacytic cells into the bone marrow (BM) could shift the homeostasis of proteins and metabolites towards a permissive niche for tumor growth. Here, we investigated whether alerted metabolic pathways contribute to the pathobiology of WM and whether the cytokine composition of the BM promotes such changes. Metabolomics analysis on WM patients and normal donors' serum samples revealed a total of 75 metabolites that were significantly altered between two groups. While these metabolites belonged to amino acids, glucose, glutathione and lipid metabolism pathways, the highest number of the differentially expressed metabolites belonged to glutathione metabolism. Proteomics analysis and immunohistochemical staining both confirmed the increased protein levels mediating glutathione metabolism, including GCLC, MT1X, QPCT and GPX3. Moreover, treatment with IL-6 and IL-21, cytokines that induce WM cell proliferation and IgM secretion, increased gene expression of the amino acid transporters mediating glutathione metabolism, including ASCT2, SLC7A11 and 4F2HC, indicating that cytokines in the WM BM could modulate glutathione metabolism. Glutathione synthesis inhibition using Buthionine sulphoximine (BSO) significantly reduced WM cells proliferation in vitro, accompanied with decreased NFκB-p65 and MAPK-p38 phosphorylation. Moreover, BSO treatment significantly reduced the tumor growth rate in a WM xenograft model, further highlighting the role of glutathione metabolism in promoting tumor growth and proliferation. In summary, our data highlight a central role for glutathione metabolism in WM pathobiology and indicate that intervening with the metabolic processes could be a potential therapy for WM patients.

Keywords: Glutathione; Metabolism; Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bone Marrow
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Glutathione
  • Humans
  • Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia* / drug therapy
  • Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia* / genetics


  • Glutathione