Int J Biol Sci 2022; 18(7):2994-3005. doi:10.7150/ijbs.71381 This issue

Research Paper

The sphingosine kinase inhibitor SKI-V suppresses cervical cancer cell growth

Yan Zhang1*, Long Cheng2*, Xin Shi3*, Yu Song4*, Xiao-yu Chen5, Min-bin Chen1, Jin Yao6✉, Zhi-qing Zhang3✉, Shang Cai7✉

1. Department of Radiotherapy and Oncology, Affiliated Kunshan Hospital of Jiangsu University, Kunshan, China.
2. Department of Interventional Radiology, Dushu Lake Hospital Affiliated to Soochow University, Medical Center of Soochow University, Suzhou Dushu Lake Hospital, Suzhou, China.
3. Department of Neurology and Clinical Research Center of Neurological Disease, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University, Suzhou, China.
4. Department of Oncology, The Affiliated Zhangjiagang Hospital of Soochow University, Suzhou, China.
5. Changshu Hospital Affiliated to Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, Changshu, China.
6. The Affiliated Eye Hospital, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China.
7. Department of Radiotherapy & Oncology, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University, Institute of Radiation Oncology, Soochow University, Suzhou, China.
*Co-first authors.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( See for full terms and conditions.
Zhang Y, Cheng L, Shi X, Song Y, Chen Xy, Chen Mb, Yao J, Zhang Zq, Cai S. The sphingosine kinase inhibitor SKI-V suppresses cervical cancer cell growth. Int J Biol Sci 2022; 18(7):2994-3005. doi:10.7150/ijbs.71381. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Overexpression and/or overactivation of sphingosine kinase 1/2 (SphK1/2) is important for tumorigenesis and progression of cervical cancer. The current study examined the potential activity and signaling mechanisms of SKI-V, a non-lipid small molecule SphK inhibitor, against cervical cancer cells. In different primary and immortalized cervical cancer cells, SKI-V exerted significant anti-cancer activity by inhibiting cell viability, colony formation, proliferation, cell cycle progression and cell migration. Significant apoptosis activation was detected in SKI-V-treated cervical cancer cells. Significantly, SKI-V also provoked programmed necrosis cascade in cervical cancer cells, as it induced mitochondrial p53-cyclophilin-D-adenine nucleotide translocator-1 (ANT1) complexation, mitochondrial membrane potential collapse, reactive oxygen species production and the release of lactate dehydrogenase into the medium. Further, SKI-V blocked SphK activation and induced ceramide accumulation in primary cervical cancer cells, without affecting SphK1/2 expression. SKI-V-induced cytotoxicity in cervical cancer cells was largely inhibited by sphingosine-1-phosphate or the SphK1 activator K6PC-5, but was sensitized by adding the short-chain ceramide C6. Moreover, SKI-V inhibited Akt-mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) activation in primary cervical cancer cells, and its cytotoxicity was mitigated by a constitutively-active Akt. In vivo, daily intraperitoneal injection of SKI-V significantly inhibited subcutaneous primary cervical cancer xenograft growth in nude mice. Together, the SphK inhibitor SKI-V suppresses cervical cancer growth in vitro and in vivo.

Keywords: Cervical cancer, sphingosine kinase (SphK), SKI-V, Akt-mTOR, Cancer growth.