Mitochondrial voltage-dependent anion channels (VDACs) as novel pharmacological targets for anti-cancer agents

J Bioenerg Biomembr. 2008 Jun;40(3):213-7. doi: 10.1007/s10863-008-9158-6.


Recently, it was demonstrated that some anti-cancer agents used mitochondrial voltage-dependent anion channels (VDAC1-3 isoforms) as their pharmacological target. VDACs are expressed more highly in cancer cells than normal cells; thus the VDAC-dependent cytotoxic agents can have cancer-selectivity. Furanonaphthoquinones (FNQs) induced caspase-dependent apoptosis via the production of NADH-dependent reactive oxygen species (ROS) by VDAC1. The ROS production and the anti-cancer activity of FNQs were increased by VDAC1 overexpression. Meanwhile, erastin induced RAS-RAF-MEK-dependent non-apoptotic cell death via VDAC2. On the other hand, VDACs were needed for transporting ATP to hexokinase (HK), which was highly expressed in cancer cells. We hypothesized that the high glycolysis might induce up-regulation of VDAC. In this review, we propose that VDACs are novel candidates for effective pharmacological targets of anti-cancer drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Glycolysis / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Oncogene Protein p21(ras) / metabolism
  • Piperazines / pharmacokinetics
  • Piperazines / therapeutic use
  • Protein Isoforms / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Voltage-Dependent Anion Channels / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Voltage-Dependent Anion Channels / metabolism
  • raf Kinases / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Piperazines
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Voltage-Dependent Anion Channels
  • erastin
  • raf Kinases
  • Oncogene Protein p21(ras)