Research Papers:

Multiple blocks in the engagement of oxidative phosphorylation in putative ovarian cancer stem cells: implication for maintenance therapy with glycolysis inhibitors

Ayesha B. Alvero, Michele K. Montagna, Natalia J. Sumi, Won Duk Joo, Emma Graham and Gil Mor _

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Oncotarget. 2014; 5:8703-8715. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.2367

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Ayesha B. Alvero1, Michele K. Montagna1, Natalia J. Sumi1, Won Duk Joo1, Emma Graham1 and Gil Mor1

1 Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA


Gil Mor, email:

Keywords: ovarian cancer, cancer stem cells, oxidative phosphorylation, Warburg effect, maintenance treatment

Received: June 29, 2014 Accepted: August 18, 2014 Published: August 19, 2014


Survival rate in ovarian cancer has not improved since chemotherapy was introduced a few decades ago. The dismal prognosis is mostly due to disease recurrence where majority of the patients succumb to the disease. The demonstration that tumors are comprised of subfractions of cancer cells displaying heterogeneity in stemness potential, chemoresistance, and tumor repair capacity suggests that recurrence may be driven by the chemoresistant cancer stem cells. Thus to improve patient survival, novel therapies should eradicate this cancer cell population. We show that in contrast to the more differentiated ovarian cancer cells, the putative CD44+/MyD88+ ovarian cancer stem cells express lower levels of pyruvate dehydrogenase, Cox–I, Cox-II, and Cox–IV, and higher levels of UCP2. Together, this molecular phenotype establishes a bioenergetic profile that prefers the use of glycolysis over oxidative phosphorylation to generate ATP. This bioenergetic profile is conserved in vivo and therefore a maintenance regimen of 2-deoxyglucose administered after Paclitaxel treatment is able to delay the progression of recurrent tumors and decrease tumor burden in mice. Our findings strongly suggest the value of maintenance with glycolysis inhibitors with the goal of improving survival in ovarian cancer patients.

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