Although bevacizumab initially shows high response rates in gliomas and other tumours, therapy resistance usually develops later. Because anti-angiogenic agents are supposed to induce hypoxia, we asked whether rendering glioma cells independent of oxidative phosphorylation modulates their sensitivity against hypoxia and bevacizumab. LNT-229 glioma cells without functional mitochondria (rho 0 ) and control (rho + ) cells were generated. LNT-229 rho 0 -cells displayed reduced expression of oxidative phosphorylation-related genes and diminished oxygen consumption. Conversely, glycolysis was up-regulated in these cells, as shown by increased lactate production and stronger expression of glucose transporter-1 and lactate dehydrogenase-A. However, hypoxia-induced cell death in vitro was nearly completely abolished in the LNT-229 rho 0 -cells, these cells were more sensitive towards glucose restriction and the treatment with the glycolysis inhibitor 2-deoxy-D-glucose. In an orthotopic mouse xenograft experiment, bevacizumab induced hypoxia as reflected by elevated Hypoxia-inducible factor 1-alpha staining in both, rho + - and rho 0 -tumours. However, it prolonged survival only in the mice bearing rho + -tumours (74 days vs. 105 days, p = 0.024 log-rank test) and had no effect on survival in mice carrying LNT-229 rho 0 -tumours (75 days vs. 70 days, p = 0.52 log-rank test). Interestingly, inhibition of glycolysis in vivo with 2-deoxy-D-glucose re-established sensitivity of rho 0 -tumours against bevacizumab (98 days vs. 80 days, p = 0.0001). In summary, ablation of oxidative phosphorylation in glioma cells leads to a more glycolytic and hypoxia-resistant phenotype and is sufficient to induce bevacizumab-refractory tumours. These results add to increasing evidence that a switch towards glycolysis is one mechanism how tumour cells may evade anti-angiogenic treatments and suggest anti-glycolytic strategies as promising approaches to overcome bevacizumab resistance. (Figure presented.).
- hypoxia resistance
- oxidative phosphorylation