The sphingosine kinase 2 inhibitor ABC294640 displays anti-non-small cell lung cancer activities in vitro and in vivo

Int J Cancer. 2018 May 15;142(10):2153-2162. doi: 10.1002/ijc.31234. Epub 2018 Jan 4.


Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for about 85-90% of lung cancer cases, and is the number one killer among cancers in the United States. The majorities of lung cancer patients do not respond well to conventional chemo- and/or radio-therapeutic regimens, and have a dismal 5-year survival rate of ∼15%. The recent introduction of targeted therapy and immunotherapy gives new hopes to NSCLC patients, but even with these agents, not all patients respond, and responses are rarely complete. Thus, there is still an urgent need to identify new therapeutic targets in NSCLC and develop novel anti-cancer agents. Sphingosine kinase 2 (SphK2) is one of the key enzymes in sphingolipid metabolism. SphK2 expression predicts poor survival in NSCLC patients, and is associated with Gefitinib-resistance. In this study, the anti-NSCLC activities of ABC294640, the only first-in-class orally available inhibitor of SphK2, were explored. The results obtained indicate that ABC294640 treatment causes significant NSCLC cell apoptosis, cell cycle arrest and suppression of tumor growth in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, lipidomics analyses revealed the complete signature of ceramide and dihydro(dh)-ceramide species in the NSCLC cell-lines with or without ABC294640 treatment. These findings indicate that sphingolipid metabolism targeted therapy may be developed as a promising strategy against NSCLC.

Keywords: ceramide; non-small cell lung cancer; sphingolipid; sphingosine kinase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • A549 Cells
  • Adamantane / analogs & derivatives*
  • Adamantane / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / enzymology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints / drug effects
  • Cell Growth Processes / drug effects
  • Ceramides / biosynthesis
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Mice
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor) / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor) / metabolism
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Pyridines / pharmacology*
  • Random Allocation
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Ceramides
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Pyridines
  • 3-(4-chlorophenyl)-adamantane-1-carboxylic acid (pyridin-4-ylmethyl)amide
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor)
  • sphingosine kinase 2, human
  • Adamantane