INTRODUCTION: For energy production, cancer cells maintain a high rate of glycolysis instead of oxidative phosphorylation converting glucose into lactic acid. This metabolic shift is useful to survive in unfavorable microenvironments. We investigated whether a positive glycolytic profile (PGP) in gastric adenocarcinomas may be associated with unfavorable outcomes under an anticancer systemic therapy, including the anti-angiogenic ramucirumab.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Normal mucosa (NM) and primary tumor (PT) of 40 metastatic gastric adenocarcinomas patients who received second-line paclitaxel-ramucirumab (PR) were analyzed for mRNA expression of the following genes: HK-1, HK-2, PKM-2, LDH-A, and GLUT-1. Patients were categorized with PGP when at least a doubling of mRNA expression (PT vs. NM) in all glycolytic core enzymes (HK-1 or HK-2, PKM-2, LDH-A) was observed. PGP was also related to TP53 mutational status.
RESULTS: Mean LDH-A, HK-2, PKM-2 mRNA expression levels were significantly higher in PT compared with NM. 18 patients were classified as PGP, which was associated with significantly worse progression-free and overall survival times. No significant association was observed between PGP and clinical-pathologic features, including TP53 positive mutational status, in 28 samples.
CONCLUSIONS: Glycolytic proficiency may negatively affect survival outcomes of metastatic gastric cancer patients treated with PR systemic therapy. TP53 mutational status alone does not seem to explain such a metabolic shift.