Targeting hyaluronidase for cancer therapy: Antitumor activity of sulfated hyaluronic acid in prostate cancer cells

Anaid Benitez, Travis J. Yates, Luis E. Lopez, Wolfgang H. Cerwinka, Ashraf Bakkar, Vinata B. Lokeshwar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


The tumor cell-derived hyaluronidase (HAase) HYAL-1 degrades hyaluronic acid (HA) into proangiogenic fragments that support tumor progression. Although HYAL-1 is a critical determinant of tumor progression and a marker for cancer diagnosis and metastasis prediction, it has not been evaluated as a target for cancer therapy. Similarly, sulfated hyaluronic acid (sHA) has not been evaluated for biological activity, although it is an HAase inhibitor. In this study, we show that sHA is a potent inhibitor of prostate cancer. sHA blocked the proliferation, motility, and invasion of LNCaP, LNCaP-AI, DU145, and LAPC-4 prostate cancer cells, and induced caspase-8-dependent apoptosis associated with downregulation of Bcl-2 and phospho-Bad. sHA inhibited Akt signaling including androgen receptor (AR) phosphorylation, AR activity, nuclear factor kB (NFkB) activation, and VEGF expression. These effects were traced to a blockade in complex formation between phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) and HA receptors and to a transcriptional downregulation of HA receptors, CD44, and RHAMM, along with PI3K inhibition. Angiogenic HA fragments or overexpression of myristoylated Akt or HA receptors blunted these effects of sHA, implicating a feedback loop between HA receptors and PI3K/Akt signaling in the mechanism of action. In an animal model, sHA strongly inhibited LNCaP-AI prostate tumor growth without causing weight loss or apparent serum-organ toxicity. Inhibition of tumor growth was accompanied by a significant decrease in tumor angiogenesis and an increase in apoptosis index. Taken together, our findings offer mechanistic insights into the tumor-associated HA-HAase system and a preclinical proof-of-concept of the safety and efficacy of sHA to control prostate cancer growth and progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4085-4095
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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