Succinate prodrugs as treatment for acute metabolic crisis during fluoroacetate intoxication in the rat

Sarah Piel, Joanna I. Janowska, J. Laurenson Ward, Meagan J. McManus, Danielle I. Aronowitz, Piotr K. Janowski, Jonathan Starr, Jordan N. Hook, Marco M. Hefti, Carly L. Clayman, Eskil Elmér, Magnus J. Hansson, David H. Jang, Michael Karlsson, Johannes K. Ehinger, Todd J. Kilbaugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sodium fluoroacetate (FA) is a metabolic poison that systemically inhibits the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, causing energy deficiency and ultimately multi-organ failure. It poses a significant threat to society because of its high toxicity, potential use as a chemical weapon and lack of effective antidotal therapy. In this study, we investigated cell-permeable succinate prodrugs as potential treatment for acute FA intoxication. We hypothesized that succinate prodrugs would bypass FA-induced mitochondrial dysfunction, provide metabolic support, and prevent metabolic crisis during acute FA intoxication. To test this hypothesis, rats were exposed to FA (0.75 mg/kg) and treated with the succinate prodrug candidate NV354. Treatment efficacy was evaluated based on cardiac and cerebral mitochondrial respiration, mitochondrial content, metabolic profiles and tissue pathology. In the heart, FA increased concentrations of the TCA metabolite citrate (+ 4.2-fold, p < 0.01) and lowered ATP levels (− 1.9-fold, p < 0.001), confirming the inhibition of the TCA cycle by FA. High-resolution respirometry of cardiac mitochondria further revealed an impairment of mitochondrial complex V (CV)-linked metabolism, as evident by a reduced phosphorylation system control ratio (− 41%, p < 0.05). The inhibition of CV-linked metabolism is a novel mechanism of FA cardiac toxicity, which has implications for drug development and which NV354 was unable to counteract at the given dose. In the brain, FA induced the accumulation of β-hydroxybutyrate (+ 1.4-fold, p < 0.05) and the reduction of mitochondrial complex I (CI)-linked oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOSCI) (− 20%, p < 0.01), the latter of which was successfully alleviated by NV354. This promising effect of NV354 warrants further investigations to determine its potential neuroprotective effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1231-1244
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Pharmacology and Toxicology

Free keywords

  • Cell-permeable succinate
  • Emergency medicine
  • Fluoroacetate
  • Mitochondria
  • Toxicity


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