Patients with advanced-stage non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) are susceptible to malnutrition and develop folate deficiency (FD). We previously found that folate deprivation induces drug resistance in hepatocellular carcinoma; here, we assessed whether disrupted cytoplasmic fo-late metabolism could mimic FD-induced metastasis and affect the sensitivity of NSCLC cells to epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKIs). We examined whether cytosolic folate metabolism in NSCLC cells was disrupted by FD or the folate metabolism blocker pemetrexed for 1–4 weeks. Our results revealed an increase in NF-κB overexpression–mediated epithelial-mesenchymal transition biomarkers: N-cadherin, vimentin, matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), SOX9, and SLUG. This finding suggests that the disruption of folate metabolism can dras-tically enhance the metastatic properties of NSCLC cells. Cytosolic FD also affected EGFR-TKI cytotoxicity toward NSCLC cells. Because SLUG and N-cadherin are resistance effectors against gefitinib, the effects of SLUG knockdown in folate antagonist–treated CL1-0 cells were evaluated. SLUG knockdown prevented SLUG/NF-κB/SOX9-mediated invasiveness and erlotinib resistance acquisition and significantly reduced pemetrexed-induced gelatinase activity and MMP gene ex-pression. To summarize, our data reveal two unprecedented adverse effects of folate metabolism disruption in NSCLC cells. Thus, the folic acid status of patients with NSCLC under treatment can considerably influence their prognosis.
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