bims-tumime Biomed News
on Tumor microenvironment and metabolism
Issue of 2024‒02‒04
eleven papers selected by
Alex Muir, University of Chicago

  1. Exp Hematol Oncol. 2024 Jan 29. 13(1): 10
      Metabolic reprogramming is an emerging hallmark of cancer cells, enabling them to meet increased nutrient and energy demands while withstanding the challenging microenvironment. Cancer cells can switch their metabolic pathways, allowing them to adapt to different microenvironments and therapeutic interventions. This refers to metabolic heterogeneity, in which different cell populations use different metabolic pathways to sustain their survival and proliferation and impact their response to conventional cancer therapies. Thus, targeting cancer metabolic heterogeneity represents an innovative therapeutic avenue with the potential to overcome treatment resistance and improve therapeutic outcomes. This review discusses the metabolic patterns of different cancer cell populations and developmental stages, summarizes the molecular mechanisms involved in the intricate interactions within cancer metabolism, and highlights the clinical potential of targeting metabolic vulnerabilities as a promising therapeutic regimen. We aim to unravel the complex of metabolic characteristics and develop personalized treatment approaches to address distinct metabolic traits, ultimately enhancing patient outcomes.
    Keywords:  Heterogeneous treatment effect; Metabolic exchange and integration; Metabolic heterogeneity; Metabolic patterns and regulation; Tumor heterogeneity
  2. J Hematol Oncol. 2024 Jan 31. 17(1): 6
      The liver is essential for metabolic homeostasis. The onset of liver cancer is often accompanied by dysregulated liver function, leading to metabolic rearrangements. Overwhelming evidence has illustrated that dysregulated cellular metabolism can, in turn, promote anabolic growth and tumor propagation in a hostile microenvironment. In addition to supporting continuous tumor growth and survival, disrupted metabolic process also creates obstacles for the anticancer immune response and restrains durable clinical remission following immunotherapy. In this review, we elucidate the metabolic communication between liver cancer cells and their surrounding immune cells and discuss how metabolic reprogramming of liver cancer impacts the immune microenvironment and the efficacy of anticancer immunotherapy. We also describe the crucial role of the gut-liver axis in remodeling the metabolic crosstalk of immune surveillance and escape, highlighting novel therapeutic opportunities.
    Keywords:  Gut–liver axis; Immune microenvironment; Liver cancer; Metabolic reprogramming
  3. bioRxiv. 2024 Jan 30. pii: 2024.01.16.575943. [Epub ahead of print]
      Macropinocytosis has emerged as a nutrient-scavenging pathway that cancer cells exploit to survive the nutrient-deprived conditions of the tumor microenvironment. Cancer cells are especially reliant on glutamine for their survival, and in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) cells, glutamine deficiency can enhance the stimulation of macropinocytosis, allowing the cells to escape metabolic stress through the production of extracellular-protein-derived amino acids. Here, we identify the atypical protein kinase C (aPKC) enzymes, PKCζ and PKCι as novel regulators of macropinocytosis. In normal epithelial cells, aPKCs are known to regulate cell polarity in association with the scaffold proteins Par3 and Par6, controlling the function of several targets, including the Par1 kinases. In PDAC cells, we identify that each of these cell polarity proteins are required for glutamine stress-induced macropinocytosis. Mechanistically, we find that the aPKCs are regulated by EGFR signaling or by the transcription factor CREM to promote the relocation of Par3 to microtubules, facilitating macropinocytosis in a dynein-dependent manner. Importantly, we determine that cell fitness impairment caused by aPKC depletion is rescued by the restoration of macropinocytosis and that aPKCs support PDAC growth in vivo. These results identify a previously unappreciated role for cell polarity proteins in the regulation of macropinocytosis and provide a better understanding of the mechanistic underpinnings that control macropinocytic uptake in the context of metabolic stress.
  4. Lipids Health Dis. 2024 Feb 01. 23(1): 35
      Lipid metabolism in cancer cells has garnered increasing attention in recent decades. Cancer cells thrive in hypoxic conditions, nutrient deficiency, and oxidative stress and cannot be separated from alterations in lipid metabolism. Therefore, cancer cells exhibit increased lipid metabolism, lipid uptake, lipogenesis and storage to adapt to a progressively challenging environment, which contribute to their rapid growth. Lipids aid cancer cell activation. Cancer cells absorb lipids with the help of transporter and translocase proteins to obtain energy. Abnormal levels of a series of lipid synthases contribute to the over-accumulation of lipids in the tumor microenvironment (TME). Lipid reprogramming plays an essential role in the TME. Lipids are closely linked to several immune cells and their phenotypic transformation. The reprogramming of tumor lipid metabolism further promotes immunosuppression, which leads to immune escape. This event significantly affects the progression, treatment, recurrence, and metastasis of cancer. Therefore, the present review describes alterations in the lipid metabolism of immune cells in the TME and examines the connection between lipid metabolism and immunotherapy.
    Keywords:  Immunotherapy; Lipid metabolism; Programmed cell death protein 1; Targeted therapy; Tumor microenvironment
  5. Nat Commun. 2024 Feb 01. 15(1): 966
      The tumor microenvironment is reprogrammed by cancer cells and participates in all stages of tumor progression. Neutral ceramidase is a key regulator of ceramide, the central intermediate in sphingolipid metabolism. The contribution of neutral ceramidase to the reprogramming of the tumor microenvironment is not well understood. Here, we find that deletion of neutral ceramidase in multiple breast cancer models in female mice accelerates tumor growth. Our result show that Ly6C+CD39+ tumor-infiltrating CD8 T cells are enriched in the tumor microenvironment and display an exhausted phenotype. Deletion of myeloid neutral ceramidase in vivo and in vitro induces exhaustion in tumor-infiltrating Ly6C+CD39+CD8+ T cells. Mechanistically, myeloid neutral ceramidase is required for the generation of lipid droplets and for the induction of lipolysis, which generate fatty acids for fatty-acid oxidation and orchestrate macrophage metabolism. Metabolite ceramide leads to reprogramming of macrophages toward immune suppressive TREM2+ tumor associated macrophages, which promote CD8 T cells exhaustion.
  6. Front Immunol. 2023 ;14 1325360
      A significant factor in the antitumor immune response is the increased metabolic reprogramming of immunological and malignant cells. Increasing data points to the fact that cancer metabolism affects not just cancer signaling, which is essential for maintaining carcinogenesis and survival, but also the expression of immune cells and immune-related factors such as lactate, PGE2, arginine, IDO, which regulate the antitumor immune signaling mechanism. In reality, this energetic interaction between the immune system and the tumor results in metabolic competition in the tumor ecosystem, limiting the amount of nutrients available and causing microenvironmental acidosis, which impairs the ability of immune cells to operate. More intriguingly, different types of immune cells use metabolic reprogramming to keep the body and self in a state of homeostasis. The process of immune cell proliferation, differentiation, and performance of effector functions, which is crucial to the immune response, are currently being linked to metabolic reprogramming. Here, we cover the regulation of the antitumor immune response by metabolic reprogramming in cancer cells and immune cells as well as potential strategies for metabolic pathway targeting in the context of anticancer immunotherapy. We also discuss prospective immunotherapy-metabolic intervention combinations that might be utilized to maximize the effectiveness of current immunotherapy regimes.
    Keywords:  hypoxia; immunosuppression; metastasis; reprogramming; tumor metabolism
  7. Cancer Res. 2024 Jan 29.
      Impairing the BET-family co-activator BRD4 with small molecule inhibitors (BETi) showed encouraging pre-clinical activity in treating acute myeloid leukemia (AML). However, dose-limiting toxicities and limited clinical activity dampened the enthusiasm for BETi as a single agent. BETi resistance in AML myeloblasts was found to correlate with maintaining mitochondrial respiration, suggesting that identifying the metabolic pathway sustaining mitochondrial integrity could help develop approaches to improve BETi efficacy. Herein, we demonstrated that mitochondria-associated lactate dehydrogenase allows AML myeloblasts to utilize lactate as a metabolic bypass to fuel mitochondrial respiration and maintain cellular viability. Pharmacologically and genetically impairing lactate utilization rendered resistant myeloblasts susceptible to BET inhibition. Low-dose combinations of BETi and oxamate, a lactate dehydrogenase inhibitor, reduced in vivo expansion of BETi-resistant AML in cell line and patient-derived murine models. These results elucidate how AML myeloblasts metabolically adapt to BETi by consuming lactate and demonstrate that combining BETi with inhibitors of lactate utilization may be useful in AML treatment.
  8. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2024 Jan 31.
      Several clinical studies observed a surprising beneficial effect of obesity to increase immunotherapy responsiveness in melanoma patients, highlighting an as-yet insufficiently understood relationship between metabolism and immunogenicity. Here we demonstrate that the thiazolidinedione (TZD) rosiglitazone, a drug used to treat diabetes by sequestering fatty acids in the metabolically inert subcutaneous adipose tissue, improved sensitivity to anti-Programmed Cell Death Protein 1 (PD-1) treatment in YUMMER1.7 tumor-bearing mice, a murine melanoma model that is initially sensitive to immunotherapy. We observed a transition from high to intermediate PD-1 expression in tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells. Moreover, we observed inhibited PD-1 expression in mouse and human T cells treated with TZD in vitro. In addition to its direct impact on immune cells, TZD also decreases circulating insulin concentrations, while insulin induced exhaustion in T cell culture. In TZD-treated mice, we observed higher fatty acid concentrations in the tumor microenvironment, with fatty acids protecting against exhaustion in culture. Together, these data are consistent with an indirect mechanism of TZD inhibiting T cell exhaustion. Finally, we analyzed imaging data from melanoma patients before and after anti-PD-1 treatment and confirmed a beneficial effect of increased subcutaneous fat on anti-PD-1 responsiveness in patients. We also found that the expression of PPARg, the canonical activator of lipid uptake and adipogenesis, which is activated by TZD, is correlated with overall survival time. Taken together, these data identify a new adjuvant to sensitize mice with YUMMER1.7 melanoma to immunotherapy, and discover a new metabolism-based prognostic marker in human melanoma.
    Keywords:  immunotherapy; melanoma; subcutaneous fat; thiazolidinedione
  9. J Clin Invest. 2024 Feb 01. pii: e176879. [Epub ahead of print]134(3):
      A major challenge in treating patients with glioblastoma is the inability to eliminate highly invasive cells with chemotherapy, radiation, or surgical resection. As cancer cells face the issue of replicating or invading neighboring tissue, they rewire their metabolism in a concerted effort to support necessary cellular processes and account for altered nutrient abundance. In this issue of the JCI, Garcia et al. compared an innovative 3D hydrogel-based invasion device to regional patient biopsies through a comprehensive multiomics-based approach paired with a CRISPR knockout screen. Their findings elucidate a role for cystathionine γ-lyase (CTH), an enzyme in the transsulfuration pathway, as a means of regulating the cellular response to oxidative stress. CTH-mediated conversion of cystathionine to cysteine was necessary for regulating reactive oxygen species to support invasion. Meanwhile, inhibition of CTH suppressed the invasive glioblastoma phenotype. However, inhibiting CTH resulted in a larger overall tumor mass. These findings suggest that targeting the transsulfuration pathway may serve as a means of redirecting glioblastoma to proliferate or invade.
  10. bioRxiv. 2024 Jan 20. pii: 2024.01.17.576078. [Epub ahead of print]
      Background: Elevated choline kinase alpha (ChoK) is observed in most solid tumours including glioblastomas (GBM), yet until recently, inhibitors of ChoK have demonstrated limited efficacy in GBM models. Given that hypoxia is associated with GBM therapy resistance, we hypothesised that tumour hypoxia could be responsible for such limitations. We therefore evaluated in GBM cells, the effect of hypoxia on the function of JAS239, a potent ChoK inhibitor.Methods: Rodent (F98 and 9L) and human (U-87 MG and U-251 MG) GBM cell lines were subjected to 72 hours of hypoxia conditioning and treated with JAS239 for 24 hours. NMR metabolomic measurements and analyses were performed to evaluate the signalling pathways involved. In addition, cell proliferation, cell cycle progression and cell invasion were measured in cell monolayers and 3D spheroids, with or without JAS239 treatment in normoxic or hypoxic cells to assess how hypoxia affects JAS239 function.
    Results: Hypoxia and JAS239 treatment led to significant changes in the cellular metabolic pathways, specifically the phospholipid and glycolytic pathways associated with a reduction in cell proliferation via induced cell cycle arrest. Interestingly, JAS239 also impaired GBM invasion. However, JAS239 effects were variable depending on the cell line, reflecting the inherent heterogeneity observed in GBMs.
    Conclusion: Our findings indicate that JAS239 and hypoxia can deregulate cellular metabolism, inhibit proliferation and alter cell invasion. These results may be useful for the design of new therapeutic strategies based on ChoK inhibition that can act on multiple pro-tumorigenic features.