Glycolysis gene expression analysis and selective metabolic advantage in the clinical progression of colorectal cancer

Pharmacogenomics J. 2017 Jun;17(3):258-264. doi: 10.1038/tpj.2016.13. Epub 2016 Mar 1.


Production of lactate even in the presence of sufficient levels of oxygen (aerobic glycolysis) seems the prevalent energy metabolism pathway in cancer cells. The analysis of altered expression of effectors causing redirection of glucose metabolism would help to characterize this phenomenon with possible therapeutic implications. We analyzed mRNA expression of the key enzymes involved in aerobic glycolysis in normal mucosa (NM), primary tumor (PT) and liver metastasis (LM) of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients (pts) who underwent primary tumor surgery and liver metastasectomy. Tissues of 48 CRC pts were analyzed by RT-qPCR for mRNA expression of the following genes: hexokinase-1 (HK-1) and 2 (HK-2), embryonic pyruvate kinase (PKM-2), lactate dehydrogenase-A (LDH-A), glucose transporter-1 (GLUT-1), voltage-dependent anion-selective channel protein-1 (VDAC-1). Differences in the expression of the candidate genes between tissues and associations with clinical/pathologic features were studied. GLUT-1, LDH-A, HK-1, PKM-2 and VDAC-1 mRNA expression levels were significantly higher in PT/LM tissues compared with NM. There was a trend for higher expression of these genes in LM compared with PT tissues, but differences were statistically significant for LDH-A expression only. RAS mutation-positive disease was associated with high GLUT-1 mRNA expression levels only. Right-sided colon tumors showed significantly higher GLUT-1, PKM-2 and LDH-A mRNA expression levels. High glycolytic profile was significantly associated with poor prognosis in 20 metastatic, RAS-mutated pts treated with first-line chemotherapy plus Bevacizumab. Altered expression of effectors associated with upregulated glucose uptake and aerobic glycolysis occurs in CRC tissues. Additional analyses are warranted for addressing the role of these changes in anti-angiogenic resistance and for developing novel therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Colectomy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / therapy
  • Disease Progression
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Glycolysis / genetics*
  • Hepatectomy
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Liver Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy
  • Male
  • Metastasectomy / methods
  • Mutation
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Pharmacogenomic Variants
  • Phenotype
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • RNA, Messenger