24-Hour Glucose Deprivation Kills Certain Cancer Cell Lines

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Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Greg Hampikian


One of the hallmarks of cancer cells is their high uptake of glucose. The metabolism of cancer cells produces ATP mainly from aerobic Glycolysis rather than oxidative phosphorylation in normal cells – also known as the Warburg effect. Therefore a new strategy to kill cancer cells is based on glucose deprivation. 2-Deoxy-D-Glucose, an analog of glucose that inhibits Glycolysis, is used to treat cancer patients (Phase I/II clinical trials).

This project is focused on the effects of glucose deprivation on cancer cells in culture. The viability of 13 cancer cell lines was examined when cultured in glucose-free PBS (phosphate buffered saline) for 24 hours. After this starvation period, cells were exposed to complete culture media (RPMI1640+10% serum). The purpose was to see if cancer cells can recover after glucose starvation. The cell lines studied were UACC-62 (melanoma), OVCAR-8 (ovarian cancer), HCT-116 (colon cancer), 833HS-578T (breast cancer), OVCAR-5 (ovarian cancer), COLO-205 (colon cancer), DU-145 (prostate cancer), UO-31 (kidney cancer), OVCAR-3 (ovarian cancer), OVCAR-4 (ovarian cancer), EKVX (lung cancer), HCC2998 (colon cancer), and CCRF-CEM (leukemia).

The preliminary results show three outcomes: 1. The cell lines 833HS-578T, DU-145, UO-31 and CCRF-CEM do not recover at all. 2. The cell lines UACC-62, OVCAR-5 and HCC2998 recover fully. 3. The remaining cells recover between 30-50%. This demonstrates that glucose starvation, followed by a cell viability assay, are not enough to assess the effect of glucose deprivation on cancer cells. A recovery assay must be performed to determine if cells can recover.

The results of this experiment reveal that glucose deprivation is a possible treatment option of certain cancers.

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