Reactive species, which mainly include reactive oxygen species (ROS), are products generated as a consequence of metabolic reactions in the mitochondria of eukaryotic cells. In normal cells, low-level concentrations of these compounds are required for signal transduction before their elimination. However, cancer cells, which exhibit an accelerated metabolism, demand high ROS concentrations to maintain their high proliferation rate. Different ways of developing ROS resistance include the execution of alternative pathways, which can avoid large amounts of ROS accumulation without compromising the energy demand required by cancer cells. Examples of these processes include the guidance of the glycolytic pathway into the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) and/or the generation of lactate instead of employing aerobic respiration in the mitochondria. Importantly, ROS levels can be used as a thermostat to monitor the damage that cells can bear. The implications for ROS regulation are highly significant for cancer therapy because commonly used radio- and chemotherapeutic drugs influence tumor outcome through ROS modulation. Moreover, the discovery of novel biomarkers that are able to predict the clinical response to pro-oxidant therapies is a crucial challenge to overcome to allow for the personalization of cancer therapies.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.