Glioblastoma (GBM) remains among the deadliest of human malignancies, and the emergence of the cancer stem cell (CSC) phenotype represents a major challenge to durable treatment response. Because the environmental and lifestyle factors that impact CSC populations are not clear, we sought to understand the consequences of diet on CSC enrichment. We evaluated disease progression in mice fed an obesity-inducing high-fat diet (HFD) versus a low-fat, control diet. HFD resulted in hyper-aggressive disease accompanied by CSC enrichment and shortened survival. HFD drove intracerebral accumulation of saturated fats, which inhibited the production of the cysteine metabolite and gasotransmitter, hydrogen sulfide (H2S). H2S functions principally through protein S-sulfhydration and regulates multiple programs including bioenergetics and metabolism. Inhibition of H2S increased proliferation and chemotherapy resistance, whereas treatment with H2S donors led to death of cultured GBM cells and stasis of GBM tumors in vivo. Syngeneic GBM models and GBM patient specimens present an overall reduction in protein S-sulfhydration, primarily associated with proteins regulating cellular metabolism. These findings provide clear evidence that diet modifiable H2S signaling serves to suppress GBM by restricting metabolic fitness, while its loss triggers CSC enrichment and disease acceleration. Interventions augmenting H2S bioavailability concurrent with GBM standard of care may improve outcomes for GBM patients.
Daniel J. Silver, Gustavo A. Roversi, Nazmin Bithi, Sabrina Z. Wang, Katie M. Troike, Chase K.A. Neumann, Grace K. Ahuja, Ofer Reizes, J. Mark Brown, Christopher Hine, Justin D. Lathia