Volume 7 (2018) Issue 1 Pages A0067
Cancer cells often respond to chemotherapeutic inhibitors by redirecting carbon flow in the central metabolism. To understand the metabolic redirections of inhibitor treatment on cancer cells, this study established a 13C-metabolic flux analysis (13C-MFA)-based method to evaluate metabolic redirection in MCF-7 breast cancer cells using mass spectrometry. A metabolic stationary state necessary for accurate 13C-MFA was confirmed during an 8–24 h window using low-dose treatments of various metabolic inhibitors. Further 13C-labeling experiments using [1-13C]glucose and [U-13C]glutamine, combined with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis of mass isotopomer distributions (MIDs), confirmed that an isotopic stationary state of intracellular metabolites was reached 24 h after treatment with paclitaxel (Taxol), an inhibitor of mitosis used for cancer treatment. Based on these metabolic and isotopic stationary states, metabolic flux distribution in the central metabolism of paclitaxel-treated MCF-7 cells was determined by 13C-MFA. Finally, estimations of the 95% confidence intervals showed that tricarboxylic acid cycle metabolic flux increased after paclitaxel treatment. Conversely, anaerobic glycolysis metabolic flux decreased, revealing metabolic redirections by paclitaxel inhibition. The gap between total regeneration and consumption of ATP in paclitaxel-treated cells was also found to be 1.2 times greater than controls, suggesting ATP demand was increased by paclitaxel treatment, likely due to increased microtubule polymerization. These data confirm that 13C-MFA can be used to investigate inhibitor-induced metabolic redirection in cancer cells. This will contribute to future pharmaceutical developments and understanding variable patient response to treatment.