Amino Acid-Metabolizing Enzymes in Advanced High-Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer Patients: Value of Ascites as Biomarker Source and Role for IL4I1 and IDO1

Posted on 10 July 2022


The molecular mechanisms contributing to immune suppression in ovarian cancer are not well understood, hampering the successful application of immunotherapy. Amino acid-metabolizing enzymes are known to contribute to the immune-hostile environment of various tumors through depletion of amino acids and production of immunosuppressive metabolites. We aimed to collectively evaluate the activity of these enzymes in high-grade serous ovarian cancer patients by performing targeted metabolomics on plasma and ascites samples. Whereas no indication was found for enhanced l-arginine or l-glutamine metabolism by immunosuppressive enzymes in ovarian cancer patients, metabolism of l-tryptophan by indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) was significantly elevated compared to healthy controls. Moreover, high levels of l-phenylalanine- and l-tyrosine-derived metabolites associated with interleukin 4 induced 1 (IL4I1) activity were found in ovarian cancer ascites samples. While l-tryptophan is a major substrate of both IDO1 and IL4I1, only its enhanced conversion into l-kynurenine by IDO1 could be detected, despite the observed activity of IL4I1 on its other substrates. In ascites of ovarian cancer patients, metabolite levels were higher compared to those in plasma, demonstrating the value of utilizing this fluid for biomarker identification. Finally, elevated metabolism of l-phenylalanine and l-tyrosine by IL4I1 correlated with disease stage, pointing towards a potential role for IL4I1 in ovarian cancer progression.

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