Metabolic-Pathway-Based Subtyping of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Reveals Potential Therapeutic Targets

Cell Metab. 2021 Jan 5;33(1):51-64.e9. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2020.10.012. Epub 2020 Nov 11.


Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) remains an unmet medical challenge. We investigated metabolic dysregulation in TNBCs by using our multi-omics database (n = 465, the largest to date). TNBC samples were classified into three heterogeneous metabolic-pathway-based subtypes (MPSs) with distinct metabolic features: MPS1, the lipogenic subtype with upregulated lipid metabolism; MPS2, the glycolytic subtype with upregulated carbohydrate and nucleotide metabolism; and MPS3, the mixed subtype with partial pathway dysregulation. These subtypes were validated by metabolomic profiling of 72 samples. These three subtypes had distinct prognoses, molecular subtype distributions, and genomic alterations. Moreover, MPS1 TNBCs were more sensitive to metabolic inhibitors targeting fatty acid synthesis, whereas MPS2 TNBCs showed higher sensitivity to inhibitors targeting glycolysis. Importantly, inhibition of lactate dehydrogenase could enhance tumor response to anti-PD-1 immunotherapy in MPS2 TNBCs. Collectively, our analysis demonstrated the metabolic heterogeneity of TNBCs and enabled the development of personalized therapies targeting unique tumor metabolic profiles.

Keywords: glycolysis; heterogeneity; immunotherapy; metabolic inhibitor; metabolic pathway; metabolism; subtype; survival; triple-negative breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Male
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / metabolism
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / therapy
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Middle Aged
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured