Nesting of colon and ovarian cancer cells in the endothelial niche is associated with alterations in glycan and lipid metabolism

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The metabolic phenotype of a cancer cell is determined by its genetic makeup and microenvironment, which dynamically modulates the tumor landscape. The endothelial cells provide both a promoting and protective microenvironment - a niche for cancer cells. Although metabolic alterations associated with cancer and its progression have been fairly defined, there is a significant gap in our understanding of cancer metabolism in context of its microenvironment. We deployed an in vitro co-culture system based on direct contact of cancer cells with endothelial cells (E4 + EC), mimicking the tumor microenvironment. Metabolism of colon (HTC15 and HTC116) and ovarian (OVCAR3 and SKOV3) cancer cell lines was profiled with non-targeted metabolic approaches at different time points in the first 48 hours after co-culture was established. We found significant, coherent and non-cell line specific changes in fatty acids, glycerophospholipids and carbohydrates over time, induced by endothelial cell contact. The metabolic patterns pinpoint alterations in hexosamine biosynthetic pathway, glycosylation and lipid metabolism as crucial for cancer - endothelial cells interaction. We demonstrated that "Warburg effect" is not modulated in the initial stage of nesting of cancer cell in the endothelial niche. Our study provides novel insight into cancer cell metabolism in the context of the endothelial microenvironment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number39999
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2017


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