Hypoxia triggers major metabolic changes in AML cells without altering indomethacin-induced TCA cycle deregulation

Alessia Lodi, Stefano Tiziani, Farhat L. Khanim, Mark T. Drayson, Ulrich L. Günther, Christopher M. Bunce, Mark R. Viant

23 Citations (Scopus)


Our previous studies have shown that the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin exhibits antileukemic activity in vitro and can inhibit the aldo-keto reductase AKR1C3, which we identified as a novel target in acute myeloid leukemia. However, the antileukemic actions of indomethacin are likely to be complex and extend beyond inhibition of either AKR1C3 or cycloxygenases. To further understand the antileukemic activity of indomethacin we have used untargeted nuclear magnetic resonance-based metabolic analysis to characterize the responses of KG1a and K562 cell lines in both normal culture conditions and in hypoxia, which better represents the tumor environment in vivo. Hypoxia induced dramatic metabolic changes in untreated KG1a and K562, including adaptation of both phospholipid and glycolytic metabolism. Despite these changes, both cell lines sustained relatively unaltered mitochondrial respiration. The administration of indomethacin induced similar metabolic responses regardless of the oxygen level in the environment. Notable exceptions included metabolites associated with de novo fatty acid synthesis and choline phospholipid metabolism. Collectively, these results suggest that leukemia cells have the inherent ability to tolerate changes in oxygen tension while maintaining an unaltered mitochondrial respiration. However, the administration of indomethacin significantly increased oxidative stress in both KG1a and K562, inducing mitochondrial dysfunction, regardless of the oxygenation conditions. These findings emphasize the particular pertinence of the tricarboxylic acid cycle to the survival of cancer cells and may explain why some antileukemic drugs have been discovered and developed successfully despite the use of culture conditions that do not reflect the hypoxic environment of cancer cells in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
JournalACS Chemical Biology
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)169-175
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 18.02.2011

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)


Dive into the research topics of 'Hypoxia triggers major metabolic changes in AML cells without altering indomethacin-induced TCA cycle deregulation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this