Emerging perspectives on growth factor metabolic relationships in the ovarian cancer ascites environment

Academic Article


  • The ascites ecosystem in ovarian cancer is inhabited by complex cell types and is bathed in an environment rich in cytokines, chemokines, and growth factors that directly and indirectly impact metabolism of cancer cells and tumor associated cells. This milieu of malignant ascites, provides a ‘rich’ environment for the disease to thrive, contributing to every aspect of advanced ovarian cancer, a devastating gynecological cancer with a significant gap in targeted therapeutics. In this perspective we focus our discussions on the ‘acellular’ constituents of this liquid malignant tumor microenvironment, and how they influence metabolic pathways. Growth factors, chemokines and cytokines are known modulators of metabolism and have been shown to impact nutrient uptake and metabolic flexibility of tumors, yet few studies have explored how their enrichment in malignant ascites of ovarian cancer patients contributes to the metabolic requirements of ascites-resident cells. We focus here on TGF-βs, VEGF and ILs, which are frequently elevated in ovarian cancer ascites and have all been described to have direct or indirect effects on metabolism, often through gene regulation of metabolic enzymes. We summarize what is known, describe gaps in knowledge, and provide examples from other tumor types to infer potential unexplored roles and mechanisms for ovarian cancer. The distribution and variation in acellular ascites components between patients poses both a challenge and opportunity to further understand how the ascites may contribute to disease heterogeneity. The review also highlights opportunities for studies on ascites-derived factors in regulating the ascites metabolic environment that could act as a unique signature in aiding clinical decisions in the future.
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    Author List

  • Monavarian M; Elhaw AT; Tang PW; Javed Z; Shonibare Z; Scalise CB; Arend R; Jolly MK; Sewell- Loftin MK; Hempel N