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World J Clin Oncol. 2017 Aug 10;8(4):371-377. doi: 10.5306/wjco.v8.i4.371.

Long-term stabilization of metastatic melanoma with sodium dichloroacetate.

Khan A1, Andrews D1, Shainhouse J1, Blackburn AC1.

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Sodium dichloroacetate (DCA) has been studied as a metabolic cancer therapy since 2007, based on a publication from Bonnet et al demonstrating that DCA can induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in human breast, lung and brain cancer cells. Classically, the response of cancer to a medical therapy in human research is measured by Response Evaluation Criterial for Solid Tumours definitions, which define "response" by the degree of tumour reduction, or tumour disappearance on imaging, however disease stabilization is also a beneficial clinical outcome.

It has been shown that DCA can function as a cytostatic agent in vitro and in vivo, without causing apoptosis. A case of a 32-year-old male is presented in which DCA therapy, with no concurrent conventional therapy, resulted in regression and stabilization of recurrent metastatic melanoma for over 4 years' duration, with trivial side effects. This case demonstrates that DCA can be used to reduce disease volume and maintain long-term stability in patients with advanced melanoma.

PLoS One. 2017 Jun 23;12(6):e0180061. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0180061. eCollection 2017.

Complex I inhibition augments dichloroacetate cytotoxicity through enhancing oxidative stress in VM-M3 glioblastoma cells.

Ward NP1, Poff AM1, Koutnik AP1, D'Agostino DP1.

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The robust glycolytic metabolism of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) has proven them susceptible to increases in oxidative metabolism induced by the pyruvate mimetic dichloroacetate (DCA). Recent reports demonstrate that the anti-diabetic drug metformin enhances the damaging oxidative stress associated with DCA treatment in cancer cells. We sought to elucidate the role of metformin's reported activity as a mitochondrial complex I inhibitor in the enhancement of DCA cytotoxicity in VM-M3 GBM cells. Metformin potentiated DCA-induced superoxide production, which was required for enhanced cytotoxicity towards VM-M3 cells observed with the combination. Similarly, rotenone enhanced oxidative stress resultant from DCA treatment and this too was required for the noted augmentation of cytotoxicity. Adenosine monophosphate kinase (AMPK) activation was not observed with the concentration of metformin required to enhance DCA activity. Moreover, addition of an activator of AMPK did not enhance DCA cytotoxicity, whereas an inhibitor of AMPK heightened the cytotoxicity of the combination. Our data indicate that metformin enhancement of DCA cytotoxicity is dependent on complex I inhibition. Particularly, that complex I inhibition cooperates with DCA-induction of glucose oxidation to enhance cytotoxic oxidative stress in VM-M3 GBM cells.

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2017 Jul 22;489(2):103-108. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2017.05.097. Epub 2017 May 19.

Sensitization of breast cancer cells to paclitaxel by dichloroacetate through inhibiting autophagy.

Wang M1, Liao C2, Hu Y1, Qinwen Pan1, Jiang J3.

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Chemotherapy is still the main adjuvant strategy in the treatment of cancer, however, chemoresistance is also frequently encountered. Autophagy inhibition has been widely accepted as a promising therapeutic strategy in cancer, while the lack of effective and specific autophagy inhibitors hinders its application. Here we found that dichloroacetate (DCA), a small molecule compound, could significantly inhibit the autophagy induced by Doxorubicin in breast cancer cells. And DCA markedly enhances Doxorubicin-induced breast cancer cell death and anti-proliferation in vitro. But the sensitization to Dox of DCA was significantly reduced through induction of autophagy by rapamycin. Moreover, the combined therapy of Dox and DCA could significantly inhibit tumor growth in vivo and prolong mouse survival time. Taken together, we demonstrate that DCA could inhibit doxorubicin-inducing autophagy and provide a novel strategy for improving the anti-cancer efficacy of chemotherapy.

Int J Oncol. 2017 Aug;51(2):498-506. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2017.4029. Epub 2017 Jun 7.

In vivo evaluation of tumour acidosis for assessing the early metabolic response and onset of resistance to dichloroacetate by using magnetic resonance pH imaging.

Anemone A1, Consolino L1, Conti L1, Reineri F1, Cavallo F1, Aime S1, Longo DL2.

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Dichloroacetate (DCA) can reverse the glycolytic phenotype that is responsible of increased lactate production and extracellular pH acidification in cancer cells. Magnetic resonance imaging-chemical exchange saturation transfer (MRI-CEST) pH mapping is a novel non-invasive imaging approach that can measure in vivo extracellular tumour pH. We examined whether MRI-CEST pH mapping can monitor in vivo changes in tumour acidosis for assessing treatment response to DCA. Cell viability and extracellular pH were assessed in TS/A breast cancer cells treated with 1-10 mM DCA for 24 h in normoxia or hypoxia (1% O2) conditions. Extracellular tumour pH values were measured in vivo by MRI-CEST pH mapping of TS/A tumour-bearing mice before, three days and fifteen days after DCA or saline treatment. Reduced extracellular acidification and vitality were observed in DCA-treated TS/A cells. Tumour-bearing mice showed a marked and significant increase of tumour extracellular pH at 3 days post-DCA treatment, reflecting DCA-induced glycolysis inhibition, as confirmed by reduced lactate production. After 15 days of DCA treatment, the onset of resistance to DCA was observed, with recover of tumour extracellular acidification and lactate levels that returned to baseline values. A significant correlation was observed between tumour extracellular pH values and lactate levels (r= -0.97, P<0.05). These results suggest that MRI-CEST pH imaging is a promising tool to monitor the early response and efficacy of cancer metabolic targeting drugs.