Metabolic Reprogramming and Lipophagy Mediates Survival of Ascites Derived Metastatic Ovarian Cancer Cells

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Department of Biochemistry, Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology Dr.M.H.Marigowda Road Bangalore, India.

2 Department of Biochemistry, Bengaluru Central University, Bangalore, India.

3 Department of Pathology, Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology Dr.M.H.Marigowda raod Bangalore, India.

4 Department of Gynecologic Oncology, Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, Bangalore, India.

5 Department of Neuropathology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bangalore, India.

6 Department of Pathology and Microbiology, University of Nebraska Medical Centre, Omaha, NE, USA.


Objective: The study was aimed at understanding the survival of metastatic ovarian cancer spheroids in the malignant ascites microenvironment. Methods: All the assays were performed using aseptically collected patient samples. The cells were characterized for the expression of ovarian and cancer stem cell markers using immunocytochemistry. The presence of lipid in the primary metastatic cancer spheroids were confirmed by neutral fat staining using Oil Red-O and transmission electron microscopy. The mRNA expression of autophagy and lipid metabolism genes was analyzed using RT-PCR. The lipid content was analyzed using lipidomics analysis. Etomoxir and chloroquine were used to study the effect of inhibition of autophagy in the metastatic cells. The data were analyzed using appropriate statistical tools and a p-value <0.05 was considered to be statistically significant. Results: Metastatic ovarian cancer spheroids exhibit cancer stem like properties and undergo a metabolic reprogramming when they disseminate from the primary tumor. We report here the accumulation of numerous cytoplasmic lipid droplets and lipophagic vesicles in the metastatic cells in contrast to their primary tumors. In addition we also report that these cells depend on lipophagy for the utilization of lipids rather than the conventional lipolytic pathway. The lipidomics analysis data reveals that the metastatic cells possess high levels of unsaturated fatty acids. We have also reported the occurrence of distinct accumulation of multiple nuclei in the patient derived metastatic cells. Inhibition of beta-oxidation and autophagic machinery using etomoxir and chloroquine resulted in cell death suggesting a potential mode to suppress metastatic cancer cells. Conclusion:  Metabolic reprogramming is a characteristic feature of the metastatic ovarian cancer cells that are persisting in the malignant ascites. Targeting of the metastatic by gaining an insight into the various metabolic and molecular changes that occur in the metastatic niche provides a promising therapeutic approach in management of the disease.


Main Subjects