Metabolic Reprogramming of Ovarian Cancer Spheroids during Adhesion


Ovarian cancer remains a deadly disease and its recurrence disease is due in part to the presence of disseminating ovarian cancer aggregates not removed by debulking surgery. During dissemination in a dynamic ascitic environment, the spheroid cells’ metabolism is characterized by low respiration and fragmented mitochondria, a metabolic phenotype that may not support secondary outgrowth after adhesion. Here, we investigated how adhesion affects cellular respiration and substrate utilization of spheroids mimicking early stages of secondary metastasis. Using different glucose and oxygen levels, we investigated cellular metabolism at early time points of adherence (24 h and less) comparing slow and fast-developing disease models. We found that adhesion over time showed changes in cellular energy metabolism and substrate utilization, with a switch in the utilization of mostly glutamine to glucose but no changes in fatty acid oxidation. Interestingly, low glucose levels had less of an impact on cellular metabolism than hypoxia. A resilience to culture conditions and the capacity to utilize a broader spectrum of substrates more efficiently distinguished the highly aggressive cells from the cells representing slow-developing disease, suggesting a flexible metabolism contributes to the stem-like properties. These results indicate that adhesion to secondary sites initiates a metabolic switch in the oxidation of substrates that could support outgrowth and successful metastasis.




Compton, S.L.E.; Grieco, J.P.; Gollamudi, B.; Bae, E.; Van Mullekom, J.H.; Schmelz, E.M. Metabolic Reprogramming of Ovarian Cancer Spheroids during Adhesion. Cancers 2022, 14, 1399.