Many cancer treatments, such as those for managing recalcitrant tumors like pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, cause off-target toxicities in normal, healthy tissue, highlighting the need for more tumor-selective chemotherapies. β-Lapachone is bioactivated by NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1). This enzyme exhibits elevated expression in most solid cancers and therefore is a potential cancer-specific target. β-Lapachone's therapeutic efficacy partially stems from the drug's induction of a futile NQO1-mediated redox cycle that causes high levels of superoxide and then peroxide formation, which damages DNA and causes hyperactivation of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase, resulting in extensive NAD+/ATP depletion. However, the effects of this drug on energy metabolism due to NAD+ depletion were never described. The futile redox cycle rapidly consumes O2, rendering standard assays of Krebs cycle turnover unusable. In this study, a multimodal analysis, including metabolic imaging using hyperpolarized pyruvate, points to reduced oxidative flux due to NAD+ depletion after β-lapachone treatment of NQO1+ human pancreatic cancer cells. NAD+-sensitive pathways, such as glycolysis, flux through lactate dehydrogenase, and the citric acid cycle (as inferred by flux through pyruvate dehydrogenase), were down-regulated by β-lapachone treatment. Changes in flux through these pathways should generate biomarkers useful for in vivo dose responses of β-lapachone treatment in humans, avoiding toxic side effects. Targeting the enzymes in these pathways for therapeutic treatment may have the potential to synergize with β-lapachone treatment, creating unique NQO1-selective combinatorial therapies for specific cancers. These findings warrant future studies of intermediary metabolism in patients treated with β-lapachone.
Keywords: anaerobic glycolysis; drug metabolism; energy metabolism; isotopic tracer; nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD); nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR); oxidation-reduction (redox); oxidative stress; pyruvate; pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC).
© 2017 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.