A major barrier in reversing diabetic complications is that molecular and pathologic effects of elevated glucose persist despite normalization of glucose, a phenomenon referred to as metabolic memory. In the present studies we have investigated the effects of elevated glucose on Schwann cells, which are implicated in diabetic neuropathy. Using quantitative PCR arrays for glucose and fatty acid metabolism,wehave found that chronic (>8 wk) 25mMhigh glucose induces a persistent increase in genes that promote glycolysis, while inhibiting those that oppose glycolysis and alternate metabolic pathways such as fatty acid metabolism, the pentose phosphate pathway, and trichloroacetic acid cycle. These sustained effects were associated with decreased peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)γ bindingandpersistently increased reactive oxygen species, cellular NADH, and altered DNA methylation. Agonists of PPARγ and PPARα prevented select effects of glucose-induced gene expression. These observations suggest that Schwann cells exhibit features of metabolic memory that may be regulated at the transcriptional level. Furthermore, targeting PPAR may prevent metabolic memory and the development of diabetic complications.
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