Metabolic characterization of antifolate responsiveness and nonresponsiveness in malignant pleural mesothelioma cells

Yuzo Sato, Shiori Matsuda, Ami Maruyama, Joji Nakayama, Tomoyuki Miyashita, Hibiki Udagawa, Shigeki Umemura, Kazuyoshi Yanagihara, Atsushi Ochiai, Masaru Tomita, Tomoyoshi Soga, Katsuya Tsuchihara, Hideki Makinoshima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Antifolates are a class of drugs effective for treating malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). The majority of antifolates inhibit enzymes involved in purine and pyrimidine synthesis such as dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR), thymidylate synthase (TYMS), and glycinamide ribonucleotide formyltransferase (GART). In order to select the most suitable patients for effective therapy with drugs targeting specific metabolic pathways, there is a need for better predictive metabolic biomarkers. Antifolates can alter global metabolic pathways in MPM cells, yet the metabolic profile of treated cells has not yet been clearly elucidated. Here we found that MPM cell lines could be categorized into two groups according to their sensitivity or resistance to pemetrexed treatment. We show that pemetrexed susceptibility could be reversed and DNA synthesis rescued in drug-treated cells by the exogenous addition of the nucleotide precursors hypoxanthine and thymidine (HT). We observed that the expression of pemetrexed-targeted enzymes in resistant MPM cells was quantitatively lower than that seen in pemetrexed-sensitive cells. Metabolomic analysis revealed that glycine and choline, which are involved in one-carbon metabolism, were altered after drug treatment in pemetrexed-sensitive but not resistant MPM cells. The addition of HT upregulated the concentration of inosine monophosphate (IMP) in pemetrexed-sensitive MPM cells, indicating that the nucleic acid biosynthesis pathway is important for predicting the efficacy of pemetrexed in MPM cells. Our data provide evidence that may link therapeutic response to the regulation of metabolism, and points to potential biomarkers for informing clinical decisions regarding the most effective therapies for patients with MPM.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1129
JournalFrontiers in Pharmacology
Issue numberOCT
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Oct 12


  • Antifolate therapy
  • Mesothelioma
  • Purine
  • Pyrimidine
  • Tumor metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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