Cysteine boosters the evolutionary adaptation to CoCl2 mimicked hypoxia conditions, favouring carboplatin resistance in ovarian cancer

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Background: Ovarian cancer is the second most common gynaecologic malignancy and the most common cause of death from gynaecologic cancer, especially due to diagnosis at an advanced stage, when a cure is rare. As ovarian tumour grows, cancer cells are exposed to regions of hypoxia. Hypoxia is known to be partially responsible for tumour progression, metastasis and resistance to therapies. These suggest that hypoxia entails a selective pressure in which the adapted cells not only have a fitness increase under the selective environment, but also in non-selective adverse environments. In here, we used two different ovarian cancer cell lines - serous carcinoma (OVCAR3) and clear cell carcinoma (ES2) - in order to address the effect of cancer cells selection under normoxia and hypoxia mimicked by cobalt chloride on the evolutionary outcome of cancer cells. Results: Our results showed that the adaptation to normoxia and CoCl2 mimicked hypoxia leads cells to display opposite strategies. Whereas cells adapted to CoCl2 mimicked hypoxia conditions tend to proliferate less but present increased survival in adverse environments, cells adapted to normoxia proliferate rapidly but at the cost of increased mortality in adverse environments. Moreover, results suggest that cysteine allows a quicker response and adaptation to hypoxic conditions that, in turn, are capable of driving chemoresistance. Conclusions: We showed that cysteine impacts the adaptation of cancer cells to a CoCl2 mimicked hypoxic environment thus contributing for hypoxia-drived platinum-based chemotherapeutic agents' resistance, allowing the selection of more aggressive phenotypes. These observations support a role of cysteine in cancer progression, recurrence and chemoresistance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number97
JournalBMC Evolutionary Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2018


  • Chemoresistance
  • Cysteine
  • Evolutionary trade-off
  • Hypoxia
  • Metabolic selection
  • Ovarian cancer


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