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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Cancer 1/2018

Expression of glycolytic enzymes in ovarian cancers and evaluation of the glycolytic pathway as a strategy for ovarian cancer treatment

BMC Cancer > Ausgabe 1/2018
Chrysi Xintaropoulou, Carol Ward, Alan Wise, Suzanna Queckborner, Arran Turnbull, Caroline O. Michie, Alistair R. W. Williams, Tzyvia Rye, Charlie Gourley, Simon P. Langdon
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12885-018-4521-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Novel therapeutic approaches are required to treat ovarian cancer and dependency on glycolysis may provide new targets for treatment. This study sought to investigate the variation of expression of molecular components (GLUT1, HKII, PKM2, LDHA) of the glycolytic pathway in ovarian cancers and the effectiveness of targeting this pathway in ovarian cancer cell lines with inhibitors.


Expression of GLUT1, HKII, PKM2, LDHA were analysed by quantitative immunofluorescence in a tissue microarray (TMA) analysis of 380 ovarian cancers and associations with clinicopathological features were sought. The effect of glycolysis pathway inhibitors on the growth of a panel of ovarian cancer cell lines was assessed by use of the SRB proliferation assay. Combination studies were undertaken combining these inhibitors with cytotoxic agents.


Mean expression levels of GLUT1 and HKII were higher in high grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC), the most frequently occurring subtype, than in non-HGSOC. GLUT1 expression was also significantly higher in advanced stage (III/IV) ovarian cancer than early stage (I/II) disease. Growth dependency of ovarian cancer cells on glucose was demonstrated in a panel of ovarian cancer cell lines. Inhibitors of the glycolytic pathway (STF31, IOM-1190, 3PO and oxamic acid) attenuated cell proliferation in platinum-sensitive and platinum-resistant HGSOC cell line models in a concentration dependent manner. In combination with either cisplatin or paclitaxel, 3PO (a novel PFKFB3 inhibitor) enhanced the cytotoxic effect in both platinum sensitive and platinum resistant ovarian cancer cells. Furthermore, synergy was identified between STF31 (a novel GLUT1 inhibitor) or oxamic acid (an LDH inhibitor) when combined with metformin, an inhibitor of oxidative phosphorylation, resulting in marked inhibition of ovarian cancer cell growth.


The findings of this study provide further support for targeting the glycolytic pathway in ovarian cancer and several useful combinations were identified.
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