Hypoxia triggers major metabolic changes in AML cells without altering indomethacin-induced TCA cycle deregulation

A Lodi, S Tiziani, Farhat Khanim, Mark Drayson, UL Günther, Christopher Bunce, Mark Viant

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24 Citations (Scopus)


Our previous studies have shown that the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin exhibits anti-leukemic activity in vitro and can inhibit the aldo-keto reductase AKR1C3, which we identified as a novel target in acute myeloid leukemia. However, the anti-leukemic actions of indomethacin are likely to be complex and extend beyond either inhibition of AKR1C3 or cycloxygenases. To further understand the anti-leukemic activity of indomethacin we have used untargeted nuclear magnetic resonance-based metabolic analysis to characterize the responses of KG1a and K562 cell lines in both normal culture conditions and in hypoxia, which better represents the tumor environment in vivo. Hypoxia induced dramatic metabolic changes in untreated KG1a and K562, including adaptation of both phospholipid and glycolytic metabolism. Despite these changes, both cell lines sustained relatively unaltered mitochondrial respiration. The administration of indomethacin induced similar metabolic responses regardless of the oxygen level in the environment. Notable exceptions included metabolites associated with de novo fatty acid synthesis and choline phospholipid metabolism. Collectively, these results suggest that leukemia cells have the inherent ability to tolerate changes in oxygen tension while maintaining an unaltered mitochondrial respiration. However, the administration of indomethacin significantly increased oxidative stress in both KG1a and K562, inducing mitochondrial dysfunction, regardless of the oxygenation conditions. These findings emphasize the particular pertinence of the tricarboxylic acid cycle to the survival of cancer cells and may explain why some anti-leukemic drugs have been discovered and developed successfully despite the use of culture conditions that do not reflect the hypoxic environment of cancer cells in vivo.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-175
Number of pages7
JournalACS chemical biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2010

Bibliographical note

Publication date on PubMed is shown as 18th February 2011


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