Decreased vitamin C uptake mediated by SLC2A3 promotes leukaemia progression and impedes TET2 restoration

Br J Cancer. 2020 May;122(10):1445-1452. doi: 10.1038/s41416-020-0788-8. Epub 2020 Mar 16.


Background: Vitamin C suppresses leukaemogenesis by modulating Tet methylcytosine dioxygenase (TET) activity. However, its beneficial effect in the treatment of patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) remains controversial. In this study, we aimed to identify a potential predictive biomarker for vitamin C treatment in AML.

Methods: Gene expression patterns and their relevance to the survival of AML patients were analysed with The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Treatments (TARGET) database cases. In vitro experiments were performed on AML cell lines, a SLC2A3-knockdown cell line and patient-derived primary AML cells.

Results: SLC2A3 expression was significantly decreased in leukaemic blast cells. Below-median SLC2A3 expression was associated with poor overall survival. Low SLC2A3 expression was associated with less effective demethylation, and a diminished vitamin C effect in the AML and lymphoma cell lines. SLC2A3 knockdown in the KG-1 cell line decreased the response of vitamin C. In patient-derived primary AML cells, vitamin C only restored TET2 activity when SLC2A3 was expressed.

Conclusion: SLC2A3 could be used as a potential biomarker to predict the effect of vitamin C treatment in AML.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ascorbic Acid / genetics
  • Ascorbic Acid / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Dioxygenases
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Glucose Transporter Type 3 / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / genetics*
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / metabolism
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / pathology
  • Male
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Progression-Free Survival
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Glucose Transporter Type 3
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • SLC2A3 protein, human
  • Dioxygenases
  • TET2 protein, human
  • Ascorbic Acid