Altered energy metabolism in cancer: a unique opportunity for therapeutic intervention

Cancer Biol Ther. 2013 Feb;14(2):81-9. doi: 10.4161/cbt.22958. Epub 2012 Nov 28.


The early observations by Dr Otto Warburg revealed that fundamentally metabolic differences exist between malignant tumor cells and adjacent normal cells. Many studies have further reported the relationship between altered cellular metabolism and therapeutic outcomes. These observations suggest that targeting the peculiar metabolic pathways in cancer might be an effective strategy for cancer therapy. In recent years, investigations have accelerated into how altered cellular metabolism promotes tumor survival and growth. This review highlights the current concepts of altered metabolism in cancer and the molecular targets involved in glycolysis, mitochondria and glutamine metabolism and discusses future perspective of cellular metabolism-based cancer treatment.

Keywords: cancer metabolism; cancer therapy; cell death; cell survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Glutamine / metabolism
  • Glycolysis
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation / drug effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Glutamine