Manipulating mitochondrial pyruvate carrier function causes metabolic remodeling in corneal myofibroblasts that ameliorates fibrosis

Redox Biol. 2024 Jun 8;75:103235. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2024.103235. Online ahead of print.


Myofibroblasts are key cellular effectors of corneal wound healing from trauma, surgery, or infection. However, their persistent deposition of disorganized extracellular matrix can also cause corneal fibrosis and visual impairment. Recent work showed that the PPARγ agonist Troglitazone can mitigate established corneal fibrosis, and parallel in vitro data suggested this occurred through inhibition of the mitochondrial pyruvate carrier (MPC) rather than PPARγ. In addition to oxidative phosphorylation (Ox-Phos), pyruvate and other mitochondrial metabolites provide carbon for the synthesis of biological macromolecules. However, it is currently unclear how these roles selectively impact fibrosis. Here, we performed bioenergetic, metabolomic, and epigenetic analyses of corneal fibroblasts treated with TGF-β1 to stimulate myofibroblast trans-differentiation, with further addition of Troglitazone or the MPC inhibitor UK5099, to identify MPC-dependencies that may facilitate remodeling and loss of the myofibroblast phenotype. Our results show that a shift in energy metabolism is associated with, but not sufficient to drive cellular remodeling. Metabolites whose abundances were sensitive to MPC inhibition suggest that sustained carbon influx into the Krebs’ cycle is prioritized over proline synthesis to fuel collagen deposition. Furthermore, increased abundance of acetyl-CoA and increased histone H3 acetylation suggest that epigenetic mechanisms downstream of metabolic remodeling may reinforce cellular phenotypes. Overall, our results highlight a novel molecular target and metabolic vulnerability that affects myofibroblast persistence in the context of corneal wounding.

PMID:38889622 | DOI:10.1016/j.redox.2024.103235