Recent studies show that thiazolinediones (TZDs), agonists of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ), induce apoptosis in glioma and glioblastoma cells. Here we compared the effects of troglitazone (Trog), a TZD with low affinity for binding to PPARγ but with potent metabolic effects, on survival and metabolism in GL261 glioma cells versus primary astrocytes. Trog dose-dependently induced cell death in GL261 cells (with over 90% death at 30 μM) but did not cause any toxicity in astrocytes at the same doses. Measurements of glucose and lactate levels after incubation with Trog (30 μM) indicated an overall increase of glucose consumption and lactate production in both cell types. In astrocytes the ratio of lactate produced to glucose utilized was not significantly altered by Trog, while in glioma cells this ratio was decreased by about 40%. Trog dose-dependently reduced mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm) in both cell types; and the loss of ΔΨm was greater in the tumor cells (90% loss at 20 μM) than in astrocytes (70% loss at 20 μM). These results suggest that differences in metabolic responses could contribute to the selective resistance of astrocytes to cytotoxic effects of Trog. TZDs such as Trog should therefore be considered for testing in treatment of gliomas.
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