American Association for Cancer Research
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Suppl.Mat., Suppl. Table, Suppl. Figs Legends from Phenformin-Induced Mitochondrial Dysfunction Sensitizes Hepatocellular Carcinoma for Dual Inhibition of mTOR

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-03-31, 20:46 authored by Sónia R. Veiga, Xuemei Ge, Carol A. Mercer, María I. Hernández-Álvarez, Hala Elnakat Thomas, Javier Hernandez-Losa, Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Antonio Zorzano, George Thomas, Sara C. Kozma

Supplementary data and supplementary table and figures Legends


Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness

Instituto de Salud Carlos III



CIG European Commission

Asociación Española Contra el Cánce






Purpose: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) ranks second in cancer mortality and has limited therapeutic options. We recently described the synergistic effect of allosteric and ATP-site competitive inhibitors against the mTOR for the treatment of HCC. However, such inhibitors induce hyperglycemia and increase mitochondrial efficiency. Here we determined whether the mitochondrial complex I inhibitor phenformin could reverse both side effects, impose an energetic stress on cancer cells, and suppress the growth of HCC.Experimental Design: Human HCC cell lines were used in vitro to access the signaling and energetic impact of mTOR inhibitors and phenformin, either alone or in combination. Next, the therapeutic utility of these drugs alone or in combination was investigated preclinically in human orthotopic tumors implanted in mice, by analyzing their impact on the tumor burden and overall survival.Results: We found phenformin caused mitochondrial dysfunction and fragmentation, inducing a compensatory shift to glycolysis. In contrast, dual inhibition of mTOR impaired cell growth and glycolysis, while increasing mitochondrial fusion and efficiency. In a mouse model of human HCC, dual inhibition of mTOR, together with phenformin, was highly efficacious in controlling tumor burden. However, more strikingly, pretreatment with phenformin sensitized tumors to dual inhibition of mTOR, leading to a dramatic improvement in survival.Conclusions: Treatment of HCC cells in vitro with the biguanide phenformin causes a metabolic shift to glycolysis, mitochondrial dysfunction and fragmentation, and dramatically sensitizes orthotopic liver tumors to dual inhibition of mTOR. We therefore propose this therapeutic approach should be tested clinically in HCC. Clin Cancer Res; 24(15); 3767–80. ©2018 AACR.

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