Succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) inhibitors (SDHIs) are used worldwide to limit the proliferation of molds on plants and plant products. However, as SDH, also known as respiratory chain (RC) complex II, is a universal component of mitochondria from living organisms, highly conserved through evolution, the specificity of these inhibitors toward fungi warrants investigation. The authors first establish that the human, honeybee, earthworm and fungal SDHs are all sensitive to the eight SDHIs tested. In addition to SDH, five of the SDHIs, mostly from the latest generation, were shown to inhibit the activity of RC complex III. Finally, the authors demonstrated that the provision of glucose ad libitum in the cell culture medium, while simultaneously providing sufficient ATP and reducing power for antioxidant enzymes through glycolysis, allows the growth of RC-deficient cells, fully masking the deleterious effect of SDHIs. As a result, when glutamine is the major carbon source, the presence of SDHIs leads to time-dependent cell death. This process is significantly accelerated in fibroblasts derived from patients with neurological or neurodegenerative diseases due to RC impairment (encephalopathy originating from a partial SDH defect) and/or hypersensitivity to oxidative insults (Friedreich ataxia, familial Alzheimer's disease).
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