AMP-activated protein kinase and cancer

Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2009 May;196(1):55-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-1716.2009.01980.x. Epub 2009 Feb 25.


AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a cellular energy sensor that is conserved in eukaryotes. Elevated AMP/ATP ratio activates AMPK, which inhibits energy-consuming processes and activates energy-producing processes to restore the energy homeostasis inside the cell. AMPK activators, metformin and thiazolidinediones, are used for the treatment of type II diabetes. Recently, reports have indicated that AMPK may also be a beneficial target for cancer treatment. Cancer cells have characteristic metabolic changes different from normal cells and, being a key metabolic regulator, AMPK may regulate the switch. AMPK may act to inhibit tumorigenesis through regulation of cell growth, cell proliferation, autophagy, stress responses and cell polarity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / chemistry
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / genetics
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Autophagy / physiology
  • Cell Polarity
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / metabolism
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1 / genetics
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1 / metabolism
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism


  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • MTOR protein, human
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases