PI3K keeps the balance between metabolism and cancer

Adv Biol Regul. 2012 Sep;52(3):389-405. doi: 10.1016/j.jbior.2012.04.002. Epub 2012 Apr 24.


Epidemiological studies have established a positive correlation between cancer and metabolic disorders, suggesting that aberrant cell metabolism is a common feature of nearly all tumors. To meet their demand of building block molecules, cancer cells switch to a heavily glucose-dependent metabolism. As insulin triggers glucose uptake, most tumors are or become insulin-dependent. However, the effects of insulin and of other similar growth factors are not only limited to metabolic control but also favor tumor growth by stimulating proliferation and survival. A key signaling event mediating these metabolic and proliferative responses is the activation of the phosphatidylinositol-3 kinases (PI3K) pathway. In this review, we will thus discuss the current concepts of tumor metabolism and the opportunity of PI3K-targeted therapies to exploit the "sweet tooth" of cancer cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Diabetes Complications / metabolism
  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism*
  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors
  • Signal Transduction


  • Insulin
  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors
  • Glucose