Obesogenic High-Fat Diet and MYC Cooperate to Promote Lactate Accumulation and Tumor Microenvironment Remodeling in Prostate Cancer

Cancer Res. 2024 Jun 4;84(11):1834-1855. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-23-0519.


Cancer cells exhibit metabolic plasticity to meet oncogene-driven dependencies while coping with nutrient availability. A better understanding of how systemic metabolism impacts the accumulation of metabolites that reprogram the tumor microenvironment (TME) and drive cancer could facilitate development of precision nutrition approaches. Using the Hi-MYC prostate cancer mouse model, we demonstrated that an obesogenic high-fat diet (HFD) rich in saturated fats accelerates the development of c-MYC-driven invasive prostate cancer through metabolic rewiring. Although c-MYC modulated key metabolic pathways, interaction with an obesogenic HFD was necessary to induce glycolysis and lactate accumulation in tumors. These metabolic changes were associated with augmented infiltration of CD206+ and PD-L1+ tumor-associated macrophages (TAM) and FOXP3+ regulatory T cells, as well as with the activation of transcriptional programs linked to disease progression and therapy resistance. Lactate itself also stimulated neoangiogenesis and prostate cancer cell migration, which were significantly reduced following treatment with the lactate dehydrogenase inhibitor FX11. In patients with prostate cancer, high saturated fat intake and increased body mass index were associated with tumor glycolytic features that promote the infiltration of M2-like TAMs. Finally, upregulation of lactate dehydrogenase, indicative of a lactagenic phenotype, was associated with a shorter time to biochemical recurrence in independent clinical cohorts. This work identifies cooperation between genetic drivers and systemic metabolism to hijack the TME and promote prostate cancer progression through oncometabolite accumulation. This sets the stage for the assessment of lactate as a prognostic biomarker and supports strategies of dietary intervention and direct lactagenesis blockade in treating advanced prostate cancer.

Significance: Lactate accumulation driven by high-fat diet and MYC reprograms the tumor microenvironment and promotes prostate cancer progression, supporting the potential of lactate as a biomarker and therapeutic target in prostate cancer. See related commentary by Frigo, p. 1742.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Diet, High-Fat* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid* / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Obesity* / metabolism
  • Obesity* / pathology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc* / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc* / metabolism
  • Tumor Microenvironment*
  • Tumor-Associated Macrophages / metabolism


  • Lactic Acid
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc
  • MYC protein, human