Ion channels and the hallmarks of cancer

Trends Mol Med. 2010 Mar;16(3):107-21. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2010.01.005. Epub 2010 Feb 16.


Plasma membrane (PM) ion channels contribute to virtually all basic cellular processes and are also involved in the malignant phenotype of cancer cells. Here, we review the role of ion channels in cancer in the context of their involvement in the defined hallmarks of cancer: 1) self-sufficiency in growth signals, 2) insensitivity to antigrowth signals, 3) evasion of programmed cell death (apoptosis), 4) limitless replicative potential, 5) sustained angiogenesis and 6) tissue invasion and metastasis. Recent studies have indicated that the contribution of specific ion channels to these hallmarks varies for different types of cancer. Therefore, to determine the importance of ion channels as targets for cancer diagnosis and treatment their expression, function and regulation must be assessed for each cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • Humans
  • Ion Channels / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic


  • Ion Channels