Dichloroacetate Affects Mitochondrial Function and Stemness-Associated Properties in Pancreatic Cancer Cell Lines

Tiziana Tataranni, Francesca Agriesti, Consiglia Pacelli, Vitalba Ruggieri, Ilaria Laurenzana, Carmela Mazzoccoli, Gerardo Della Sala, Concetta Panebianco, Valerio Pazienza, Nazzareno Capitanio, Claudia Piccoli

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Targeting metabolism represents a possible successful approach to treat cancer. Dichloroacetate (DCA) is a drug known to divert metabolism from anaerobic glycolysis to mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation by stimulation of PDH. In this study, we investigated the response of two pancreatic cancer cell lines to DCA, in two-dimensional and three-dimension cell cultures, as well as in a mouse model. PANC-1 and BXPC-3 treated with DCA showed a marked decrease in cell proliferation and migration which did not correlate with enhanced apoptosis indicating a cytostatic rather than a cytotoxic effect. Despite PDH activation, DCA treatment resulted in reduced mitochondrial oxygen consumption without affecting glycolysis. Moreover, DCA caused enhancement of ROS production, mtDNA, and of the mitophagy-marker LC3B-II in both cell lines but reduced mitochondrial fusion markers only in BXPC-3. Notably, DCA downregulated the expression of the cancer stem cells markers CD24/CD44/EPCAM only in PANC-1 but inhibited spheroid formation/viability in both cell lines. In a xenograft pancreatic cancer mouse-model DCA treatment resulted in retarding cancer progression. Collectively, our results clearly indicate that the efficacy of DCA in inhibiting cancer growth mechanistically depends on the cell phenotype and on multiple off-target pathways. In this context, the novelty that DCA might affect the cancer stem cell compartment is therapeutically relevant.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 18 2019


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