Metabolic targeting of HIF-dependent glycolysis reduces lactate, increases oxygen consumption and enhances response to high-dose single-fraction radiotherapy in hypoxic solid tumors.BMC Cancer 2017; 17(1):418BC
A high rate of glycolysis leading to elevated lactate content has been linked to poor clinical outcomes in patients with head and neck and cervical cancer treated with radiotherapy. Although the biological explanation for this relationship between lactate and treatment response remains unclear, there is a continued interest in evaluating strategies of targeting metabolism to enhance the effectiveness of radiotherapy. The goal of this study was to investigate the effect of metabolic-targeting through HIF-1α inhibition and the associated changes in glycolysis, oxygen consumption and response on the efficacy of high-dose single-fraction radiotherapy (HD-SFRT).
HIF-1α wild-type and HIF-1α knockdown FaDu and ME180 xenograft tumors were grown in the hind leg of mice that were placed in an environmental chamber and exposed to different oxygen conditions (air-breathing and hypoxia). Ex vivo bioluminescence microscopy was used to measure lactate and ATP levels and the hypoxic fraction was measured using EF5 immunohistochemical staining. The oxygen consumption rate (OCR) in each cell line in response to in vitro hypoxia was measured using an extracellular flux analyzer. Tumor growth delay in vivo was measured following HD-SFRT irradiation of 20 Gy.
Targeting HIF-1α reduced lactate content, and increased both oxygen consumption and hypoxic fraction in these tumors after exposure to short-term continuous hypoxia. Tumors with intact HIF-1α subjected to HD-SFRT immediately following hypoxia exposure were less responsive to treatment than tumors without functional HIF-1α, and tumors irradiated under air breathing conditions regardless of HIF-1α status.
Blocking the HIF1 response during transient hypoxic stress increased hypoxia, reduced lactate levels and enhanced response to HD-SFRT. This strategy of combining hypofractionated radiotherapy with metabolic reprogramming to inhibit anaerobic metabolism may increase the efficacy of HD-SFRT through increased oxygen consumption and complementary killing of radiosensitive and hypoxic, radioresistant cells.