Edward T. Chouchani 1 , 2 , Victoria R. Pell 2 , Edoardo Gaude 3 , Dunja Aksentijević 4 , Stephanie Y. Sundier 5 , Ellen L. Robb 1 , Angela Logan 1 , Sergiy M. Nadtochiy 7 , Emily N. J. Ord 8 , Anthony C. Smith 1 , Filmon Eyassu 1 , Rachel Shirley 8 , Chou-Hui Hu 2 , Anna J. Dare 1 , Andrew M. James 1 , Sebastian Rogatti 1 , Richard C. Hartley 9 , Simon Eaton 10 , Ana S.H. Costa 3 , Paul S. Brookes 7 , Sean M. Davidson 6 , Michael R. Duchen 5 , Kourosh Saeb-Parsy 11 , Michael J. Shattock 4 , Alan J. Robinson 1 , Lorraine M. Work 8 , Christian Frezza 3 , Thomas Krieg 2 , Michael P. Murphy 1
05 November 2014
Ischaemia-reperfusion (IR) injury occurs when blood supply to an organ is disrupted and then restored, and underlies many disorders, notably heart attack and stroke. While reperfusion of ischaemic tissue is essential for survival, it also initiates oxidative damage, cell death, and aberrant immune responses through generation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) 1- 5 . Although mitochondrial ROS production in IR is established, it has generally been considered a non-specific response to reperfusion 1, 3 . Here, we developed a comparative in vivo metabolomic analysis and unexpectedly identified widely conserved metabolic pathways responsible for mitochondrial ROS production during IR. We showed that selective accumulation of the citric acid cycle (CAC) intermediate succinate is a universal metabolic signature of ischaemia in a range of tissues and is responsible for mitochondrial ROS production during reperfusion. Ischaemic succinate accumulation arises from reversal of succinate dehydrogenase (SDH), which in turn is driven by fumarate overflow from purine nucleotide breakdown and partial reversal of the malate/aspartate shuttle. Upon reperfusion, the accumulated succinate is rapidly re-oxidised by SDH, driving extensive ROS generation by reverse electron transport (RET) at mitochondrial complex I. Decreasing ischaemic succinate accumulation by pharmacological inhibition is sufficient to ameliorate in vivo IR injury in murine models of heart attack and stroke. Thus, we have identified a conserved metabolic response of tissues to ischaemia and reperfusion that unifies many hitherto unconnected aspects of IR injury. Furthermore, these findings reveal a novel pathway for metabolic control of ROS production in vivo, while demonstrating that inhibition of ischaemic succinate accumulation and its oxidation upon subsequent reperfusion is a potential therapeutic target to decrease IR injury in a range of pathologies.