Bladder cancer is the 10th most common cancer in the world and has a high risk of recurrence and metastasis. In order to sustain high energetic needs, cancer cells undergo complex metabolic adaptations, such as a switch toward aerobic glycolysis, that can be exploited therapeutically. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) act as key regulators of cancer metabolic reprogramming and tumorigenesis, but the sources of ROS remain unidentified. Monoamine oxidases (MAOs) are mitochondrial enzymes that generate H2O2 during the breakdown of catecholamines and serotonin. These enzymes are particularly important in neurological disorders, but recently, a new link between MAOs and cancer has been uncovered, involving their production of ROS. At present, the putative role of MAOs in bladder cancer has never been evaluated. We observed that human urothelial tumor explants and the bladder cancer cell line AY27 expressed both MAO-A and MAO-B isoforms. Selective inhibition of MAO-A or MAO-B limited mitochondrial ROS accumulation, cell cycle progression and proliferation of bladder cancer cells, while only MAO-A inhibition prevented cell motility. To test whether ROS contributed to MAO-induced tumorigenesis, we used a mutated form of MAO-A which was unable to produce H2O2. Adenoviral transduction of the WT MAO-A stimulated the proliferation and migration of AY27 cells while the Lys305Met MAO-A mutant was inactive. This was consistent with the fact that the antioxidant Trolox strongly impaired proliferation and cell cycle progression. Most interestingly, AY27 cells were highly dependent on glucose metabolism to sustain their growth, and MAO inhibitors potently reduced glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation, due to pyruvate depletion. Accordingly, MAO inhibitors decreased the expression of proteins involved in glucose transport (GLUT1) and transformation (HK2). In conclusion, urothelial cancer cells are characterized by a metabolic shift toward glucose-dependent metabolism, which is important for cell growth and is under the regulation of MAO-dependent oxidative stress.
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