Ascorbic acid, but not dehydroascorbic acid increases intracellular vitamin C content to decrease Hypoxia Inducible Factor -1 alpha activity and reduce malignant potential in human melanoma.
Biomed Pharmacother. 2017 Feb ;86:502-513. Epub 2016 Dec 23. PMID: 28012930
Adam P Fischer
INTRODUCTION: Accumulation of hypoxia inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1α) in malignant tissue is known to contribute to oncogenic progression and is inversely associated with patient survival. Ascorbic acid (AA) depletion in malignant tissue may contribute to aberrant normoxic activity of HIF-1α. While AA supplementation has been shown to attenuate HIF-1α function in malignant melanoma, the use of dehydroascorbic acid (DHA) as a therapeutic means to increase intracellular AA and modulate HIF-1α function is yet to be evaluated. Here we compared the ability of AA and DHA to increase intracellular vitamin C content and decrease the malignant potential of human melanoma by reducing the activity of HIF-1α.
METHODS: HIF-1α protein accumulation was evaluated by western blot and transcriptional activity was evaluated by reporter gene assay using a HIF-1 HRE-luciferase plasmid. Protein expressions and subcellular localizations of vitamin C transporters were evaluated by western blot and confocal imaging. Intracellularvitamin C content following AA, ascorbate 2-phosphate (A2P), or DHA supplementation was determined using a vitamin C assay. Malignant potential was accessed using a 3D spheroid Matrigel invasion assay. Data was analyzed by One or Two-way ANOVA with Tukey's multiple comparisons test as appropriate with p<0.05 considered significant.
RESULTS: Melanoma cells expressed both sodium dependent vitamin C (SVCT) and glucose (GLUT) transporters for AA and DHA transport respectively, however advanced melanomas responded favorably to AA, but not DHA. Physiological glucose conditions significantly impaired intracellular vitamin C accumulation following DHA treatment. Consequently, A2P and AA, but not DHA treated cells demonstrated lower HIF-1α protein expression and activity, and reduced malignant potential. The ability of AA to regulate HIF-1α was dependent on SVCT2 function and SVCT2 was not significantly inhibited at pH representative of the tumor microenvironment.
CONCLUSIONS: The use of ascorbic acid as an adjuvant cancer therapy remains under investigated. While AA and A2P were capable of modulating HIF-1α protein accumulation/activity, DHA supplementation resulted in minimal intracellular vitamin C activity with decreased ability to inhibit HIF-1α activity and malignant potential in advanced melanoma. Restoring AA dependent regulation of HIF-1α in malignant cells may prove beneficial in reducingchemotherapy resistance and improving treatment outcomes.