Mitochondrial Respiration Inhibition Suppresses Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma Via PI3K/Akt/FoxO1/Cyclin D1 Pathway

Bojie Chen, Shuwen Lei, Xinlu Yin, Mengjia Fei, Yixin Hu, Yuan Shi, Yanan Xu*, Lei Fu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) is the most common thyroid malignancy, but little is known regarding PTC metabolic phenotypes and the effects of mitochondrial activity on PTC progression. The great potential of mitochondria-targeting therapy in cancer treatment promoted us to use tool compounds from a family of Mito-Fu derivatives to investigate how the regulation of mitochondrial respiration affected tumor progression characteristics and molecular changes in PTC. Methods: Mito-Fu L20, a representative of 12 synthetic derivatives, was chosen for mitochondrial inhibition experiments. Sample sections from PTC patients were collected and processed to explore potential molecular alterations in tumor lymph node metastasis (LNM). In vitro analyses were performed using human PTC cell lines (K1 and TPC-1), with the human normal thyroid follicular cell line (Nthy) as a control. K1 cells were injected into nude mice to generate an animal model. The mice were injected with normal saline or Mito-Fu L20 at 20 or 50 mg/kg every other day; their body weights and tumor volumes were also measured over time. To elucidate the resulting metabolic phenotype, we measured oxygen consumption rate (OCR) and extracellular acidification rate (ECAR), cellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and mitochondrial membrane potential. Wound healing and Transwell assays, cell cycle assays, real-time fluorescence quantitative PCR, Western blotting, and immunohistochemical staining were performed to explore glycolysis-dominant metabolism in PTC. Results: Cyclin D1 and mitochondrial complex IV were detected in tumor samples from PTC patients with LNM. Mito-Fu L20 showed dose-independent and reversible modulation of mitochondrial respiration in PTC. In addition to mitochondrial dysfunction and early apoptosis, G1/S phase arrest. Notably, reversible mitochondrial inhibition yielded durable suppression of tumor proliferation, migration, and invasion via the PI3K/Akt/FoxO1/Cyclin D1 pathway. In vivo experiments demonstrated that Mito-Fu L20 has a good safety profile and specific restorative effect on mitochondrial activity in the liver. In addition, Mito-Fu L20 showed antitumor effects, alleviated tumor angiogenesis, and improved thyroid function. Conclusion: Reversible inhibition of ATP production and durable suppression of PTC growth indicates that the downregulation of mitochondrial function has a negative impact on tumor progression and LNM via the PI3K/Akt/FoxO1/Cyclin D1 pathway. The results provide new insights into the antitumor potential and clinical translation of mitochondrial inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number900444
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2022


  • Cyclin D1
  • mitochondria inhibition
  • papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC)
  • PI3K
  • respiratory chain


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