Tumor Biology

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 195–205

Metabolic restriction of cancer cells in vitro causes karyotype contraction—an indicator of cancer promotion?

Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s13277-011-0262-6

Cite this article as:
Li, Y., Héroux, P. & Kyrychenko, I. Tumor Biol. (2012) 33: 195. doi:10.1007/s13277-011-0262-6


The metabolism of cultured cancer cells is stimulated by 21% oxygen and generous nutrition, while real tumors grow in oxygen and nutrient-restricted environments. The effect of these contrasted conditions was studied in five hyperploid (54–69) cancer cell lines. When grown under anoxia and in the presence of antioxidant metabolic restrictors, the cell lines quickly reverted to almost normal chromosome numbers (47–49). The stepped withdrawal of oxygen over K562 showed progressive increases in proliferation rate and the acquisition of a stable, stem phenotype. In genetic studies, hyperploid cancer cells adjusted their chromosome numbers up or down to match their micro-environment through rapid mechanisms of endo-reduplication or chromosome loss. These fast reactions may explain the surprising adaptability of tumor cells to oncologic interventions. Furthermore, karyotype contraction may provide a basis for the previously observed carcinogenic influence of the administration of some antioxidants in human populations.


Tumour evolution Karyotype contraction Metabolic restriction Endo-reduplication Chromosome instability Antioxidants 

Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.InVitroPlus Laboratory, Department of SurgeryRoyal Victoria HospitalMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational HealthMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Cell Culture TechnologiesTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Faculty of MedicineMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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