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Cell Physiol Biochem. 2017;41(6):2374-2382. doi: 10.1159/000475655. Epub 2017 Apr 27.

Negative Effect of Ellagic Acid on Cytosolic pH Regulation and Glycolytic Flux in Human Endometrial Cancer Cells.

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Department of Internal Medicine III, Eberhard Karls University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany.
Radiation Biology Research Department, National Center for Radiation Research and Technology, Atomic Energy Authority, Cairo, Egypt.
Department of Molecular Medicine II, Medical Faculty, Heinrich Heine University, Duesseldorf, Germany.



Key properties of tumor cells include enhanced glycolytic flux with excessive consumption of glucose and formation of lactate. As glycolysis is highly sensitive to cytosolic pH, maintenance of glycolysis requires export of H+ ions, which is in part accomplished by Na+/H+ exchangers, such as NHE1. The carrier is sensitive to oxidative stress. Growth of tumor cells could be suppressed by the polyphenol Ellagic acid, which is found in various fruits and vegetables. An effect of Ellagic acid on transport processes has, however, never been reported. The present study thus elucidated an effect of Ellagic acid on cytosolic pH (pHi), NHE1 transcript levels, NHE1 protein abundance, Na+/H+ exchanger activity, and lactate release.


Experiments were performed in Ishikawa cells without or with prior Ellagic acid (20 µM) treatment. NHE1 transcript levels were determined by qRT-PCR, NHE1 protein abundance by Western blotting, pHi utilizing (2',7'-bis-(2-carboxyethyl)-5-(and-6)-carboxyfluorescein [BCECF] fluorescence, Na+/H+ exchanger activity from Na+ dependent realkalinization after an ammonium pulse, cell volume from forward scatter in flow cytometry, reactive oxygen species (ROS) from 2',7'-dichlorodihydrofluorescein fluorescence, glucose uptake utilizing 2-(N-(7-nitrobenz-2-oxa-1,3-diazol-4-yl)amino)-2-deoxyglucose, and lactate concentration in the supernatant utilizing a colorimetric (570 nm)/ fluorometric enzymatic assay.


A 48 hour treatment with Ellagic acid (20 µM) significantly decreased NHE1 transcript levels by 75%, NHE1 protein abundance by 95%, pHi from 7.24 ± 0.01 to 7.02 ± 0.01, Na+/H+ exchanger activity by 77%, forward scatter by 10%, ROS by 82%, glucose uptake by 58%, and lactate release by 15%.


Ellagic acid (20µM) markedly down-regulates ROS formation and NHE1 expression leading to decreased Na+/H+ exchanger activity, pHi, glucose uptake and lactate release in endometrial cancer cells. Those effects presumably contribute to reprogramming and growth inhibition of tumor cells.


Cytosolic pH regulation; Glycolysis; NHE1; Na+/H+ exchanger; Tumor cells

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