Key Points

  • Plasma levels of N-acetyl-D-glucosamine (GlcNAc) in patients with systemic mastocytosis (SM) correlate with advanced disease.

  • GlcNAc is an oncometabolite that promotes SM aggressiveness and exacerbates neoplastic mast-cell functions by chromatin remodeling.

Systemic mastocytosis (SM) is a KIT-driven hematopoietic neoplasm characterized by the excessive accumulation of neoplastic mast cells (MCs) in various organs and, mainly, the bone marrow (BM). Multiple genetic and epigenetic mechanisms contribute to the onset and severity of SM. However, little is known to date about the metabolic underpinnings underlying SM aggressiveness, which has thus far impeded the development of strategies to leverage metabolic dependencies when existing KIT-targeted treatments fail. Here, we show that plasma metabolomic profiles were able to discriminate indolent from advanced forms of the disease. We identified N-acetyl-D-glucosamine (GlcNAc) as the most predictive metabolite of SM severity. High plasma levels of GlcNAc in patients with advanced SM correlated with the activation of the GlcNAc-fed hexosamine biosynthesis pathway (HBP) in patients BM aspirates and purified BM MCs. At the functional level, GlcNAc enhanced human neoplastic MCs proliferation and promoted rapid health deterioration in a humanized mouse model of SM. In addition, in the presence of GlcNAc, immunoglobulin E-stimulated MCs triggered enhanced release of proinflammatory cytokines and a stronger acute response in a mouse model of passive cutaneous anaphylaxis. Mechanistically, elevated GlcNAc levels promoted the transcriptional accessibility of chromatin regions that contain genes encoding mediators of receptor tyrosine kinases cascades and inflammatory responses, thus leading to a more aggressive phenotype. Therefore, GlcNAc is an oncometabolite driver of SM aggressiveness. This study suggests the therapeutic potential for targeting metabolic pathways in MC-related diseases to manipulate MCs effector functions.

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