Tumor Biology

, Volume 37, Issue 7, pp 9169–9179 | Cite as

The proliferation impairment induced by AQP3 deficiency is the result of glycerol uptake and metabolism inhibition in gastric cancer cells

  • Zheng Li
  • Bowen Li
  • Lei Zhang
  • Liang Chen
  • Guangli Sun
  • Qun Zhang
  • Jiwei Wang
  • Xiaofei Zhi
  • Linjun Wang
  • Zekuan Xu
  • Hao Xu
Original Article


Gastric cancer is a big threat to human health. Effective therapeutic cancer target remains to be discovered. Aquaporin 3 (AQP3) belongs to a family of transmembrane channels that are important in transporting water, glycerol, and other small molecules across the cell membrane. Glycerol that is transported by AQP3 is necessary for cell energy generation and lipid synthesis which fulfill the cell biological processes. Previous studies have shown that AQP3 is implicated in disease progression in several cancer types. However, whether AQP3-regulated glycerol uptake and metabolism were involved in cancer progression remains to be further studied. Our study demonstrated that the expression of AQP3 was positively correlated with glycerol level in human gastric cancer tissues. AQP3 inhibition induced proliferation impairment in gastric cancer cells both in vitro and in vivo. AQP3 inhibition that induced glycerol uptake reduction and glycerol administration would rehabilitate the cell proliferation. The energy and lipid production decreased when AQP3 was knocked down since the cellular glycerol level and several lipogenesis enzymes were downregulated. PI3K/Akt signaling pathway, which was involved in the impaired lipid and ATP production, was also inhibited after AQP3 knockdown. Our study indicated that the energy and lipid production inhibition, which were responsible for gastric cancer cell proliferation impairment, were induced by glycerol uptake reduction after AQP3 knockdown.


AQP3 Glycerol Proliferation ATP Lipogenesis 



Aquaporin 3


Glycerol kinase










Phosphatidic acid


Lysophosphatidic acid

AGPAT1, 2, and 3

1-Acylglycerol-3-phosphate O-acyltransferase 1, 2, and 3

GPAT1 and 2

Glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase 1 and 2

MOGAT1 and 2

Monoacylglycerol O-acyltransferase 1 and 2

DGAT1 and 2

Diacylglycerol O-acyltransferase 1 and 2


Free fatty acid


Fatty acid oxidation


Fatty acid


Room temperature



Our work was sponsored by the Natural Science Foundation of China (30901421), the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province of China (BK20141493), and the Program for Development of Innovative Research Team in the First Affiliated Hospital of NJMU.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest


Ethics approval

The Institutional Ethical Board of the First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University approved of our study. Human samples were taken after informed contents be signed. For animal experiments, our designs were in line with the institutional animal care and use committee guidelines.


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Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zheng Li
    • 1
  • Bowen Li
    • 1
  • Lei Zhang
    • 1
  • Liang Chen
    • 1
  • Guangli Sun
    • 1
  • Qun Zhang
    • 1
  • Jiwei Wang
    • 1
  • Xiaofei Zhi
    • 2
  • Linjun Wang
    • 1
    • 3
  • Zekuan Xu
    • 1
  • Hao Xu
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of General SurgeryThe First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Department of General SurgeryThe Affiliated Hospital of Nantong UniversityNantongChina
  3. 3.Department of General SurgeryThe People’s Hospital of TaizhouTaizhouChina

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