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Ascorbate availability affects tumor implantation-take rate and increases tumor rejection in Gulo–/– mice

Authors Campbell EJ, Vissers MC, Dachs G

Received 24 December 2015

Accepted for publication 3 February 2016

Published 8 April 2016 Volume 2016:4 Pages 41—52

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/HP.S103088

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Professor George Simos

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Prof. Dr. Doerthe Katschinski


Elizabeth J Campbell,1 Margreet CM Vissers,2 Gabi U Dachs1

1Mackenzie Cancer Research Group, 2Centre for Free Radical Research, Department of Pathology, University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand

Abstract: In solid tumors, HIF1 upregulates the expression of hundreds of genes involved in cell survival, tumor growth, and adaptation to the hypoxic microenvironment. HIF1 stabilization and activity are suppressed by prolyl and asparagine hydroxylases, which require oxygen as a substrate and ascorbate as a cofactor. This has led us to hypothesize that intracellular ascorbate availability could modify the hypoxic HIF1 response and influence tumor growth. In this study, we investigated the effect of variable intracellular ascorbate levels on HIF1 induction in cancer cells in vitro, and on tumor-take rate and growth in the Gulo–/– mouse. These mice depend on dietary ascorbate, and were supplemented with 3,300 mg/L, 330 mg/L, or 33 mg/L ascorbate in their drinking water, resulting in saturating, medium, or low plasma and tissue ascorbate levels, respectively. In Lewis lung carcinoma cells (LL/2) in culture, optimal ascorbate supplementation reduced HIF1 accumulation under physiological but not pathological hypoxia. LL/2, B16-F10 melanoma, or CMT-93 colorectal cancer cells were implanted subcutaneously into Gulo–/– mice at a range of cell inocula. Establishment of B16-F10 tumors in mice supplemented with 3,300 mg/L ascorbate required an increased number of cancer cells to initiate tumor growth compared with the number of cells required in mice on suboptimal ascorbate intake. Elevated ascorbate intake was also associated with decreased tumor ascorbate levels and a reduction in HIF1α expression and transcriptional activity. Following initial growth, all CMT-93 tumors regressed spontaneously, but mice supplemented with 33 mg/L ascorbate had lower plasma ascorbate levels and grew larger tumors than optimally supplemented mice. The data from this study indicate that improved ascorbate intake is consistent with increased intracellular ascorbate levels, reduced HIF1 activity and reduced tumor initiation and growth, and this may be advantageous in the management of cancer.

Keywords: vitamin C, hypoxia inducible factor 1, C57BL/6 mice, B16-F10 melanoma, CMT-93 colorectal cancer

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