Abstract

Of all gynecologic cancers, epithelial-ovarian cancer (OCa) stands out with the highest mortality rates. Despite all efforts, 90% of individuals who receive standard surgical and cytotoxic therapy experience disease recurrence. The precise mechanism by which leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) and its receptor (LIFR) contribute to the progression of OCa remains unknown. Analysis of cancer databases revealed that elevated expression of LIF or LIFR was associated with poor progression-free survival of OCa patients and a predictor of poor response to chemotherapy. Using multiple primary and established OCa cell lines or tissues that represent five subtypes of epithelial-OCa, we demonstrated that LIF/LIFR autocrine signaling is active in OCa. Moreover, treatment with LIFR inhibitor, EC359 significantly reduced OCa cell viability and cell survival with an IC50 ranging from 5-50 nM. Furthermore, EC359 diminished the stemness of OCa cells. Mechanistic studies using RNA-seq and rescue experiments unveiled that EC359 primarily induced ferroptosis by suppressing the glutathione antioxidant defense system. Using multiple in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo models including cell-based xenografts, patient-derived explants, organoids, and xenograft tumors, we demonstrated that EC359 dramatically reduced the growth and progression of OCa. Additionally, EC359 therapy considerably improved tumor immunogenicity by robust CD45+ leukocyte tumor infiltration and polarizing tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) toward M1 phenotype while showing no impact on normal T-, B-, and other immune cells. Collectively, our findings indicate that the LIF/LIFR autocrine loop plays an essential role in OCa progression and that EC359 could be a promising therapeutic agent for OCa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number118
Journalnpj Precision Oncology
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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