Pateras IS, Williams C, Gianniou DD, Margetis AT, Avgeris M, Rousakis P, Legaki AI, Mirtschink P, Zhang W, Panoutsopoulou K, Delis AD, Pagakis SN, Tang W, Ambs S, Warpman Berglund U, Helleday T, Varvarigou A, Chatzigeorgiou A, Nordström A, Tsitsilonis OE, Trougakos IP, Gilthorpe JD, Frisan T
J Transl Med 21 (1) 169 [2023-03-03; online 2023-03-03]
Chemotherapy (CT) is central to the treatment of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), but drug toxicity and resistance place strong restrictions on treatment regimes. Fasting sensitizes cancer cells to a range of chemotherapeutic agents and also ameliorates CT-associated adverse effects. However, the molecular mechanism(s) by which fasting, or short-term starvation (STS), improves the efficacy of CT is poorly characterized. The differential responses of breast cancer or near normal cell lines to combined STS and CT were assessed by cellular viability and integrity assays (Hoechst and PI staining, MTT or H2DCFDA staining, immunofluorescence), metabolic profiling (Seahorse analysis, metabolomics), gene expression (quantitative real-time PCR) and iRNA-mediated silencing. The clinical significance of the in vitro data was evaluated by bioinformatical integration of transcriptomic data from patient data bases: The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), European Genome-phenome Archive (EGA), Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) and a TNBC cohort. We further examined the translatability of our findings in vivo by establishing a murine syngeneic orthotopic mammary tumor-bearing model. We provide mechanistic insights into how preconditioning with STS enhances the susceptibility of breast cancer cells to CT. We showed that combined STS and CT enhanced cell death and increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels, in association with higher levels of DNA damage and decreased mRNA levels for the NRF2 targets genes NQO1 and TXNRD1 in TNBC cells compared to near normal cells. ROS enhancement was associated with compromised mitochondrial respiration and changes in the metabolic profile, which have a significant clinical prognostic and predictive value. Furthermore, we validate the safety and efficacy of combined periodic hypocaloric diet and CT in a TNBC mouse model. Our in vitro, in vivo and clinical findings provide a robust rationale for clinical trials on the therapeutic benefit of short-term caloric restriction as an adjuvant to CT in triple breast cancer treatment.