Cancer cell metabolism: implications for therapeutic targets

Exp Mol Med. 2013 Oct 4;45(10):e45. doi: 10.1038/emm.2013.85.


Cancer cell metabolism is characterized by an enhanced uptake and utilization of glucose, a phenomenon known as the Warburg effect. The persistent activation of aerobic glycolysis in cancer cells can be linked to activation of oncogenes or loss of tumor suppressors, thereby fundamentally advancing cancer progression. In this respect, inhibition of glycolytic capacity may contribute to an anticancer effect on malignant cells. Understanding the mechanisms of aerobic glycolysis may present a new basis for cancer treatment. Accordingly, interrupting lactate fermentation and/or other cancer-promoting metabolic sites may provide a promising strategy to halt tumor development. In this review, we will discuss dysregulated and reprogrammed cancer metabolism followed by clinical relevance of the metabolic enzymes, such as hexokinase, phosphofructokinase, pyruvate kinase M2, lactate dehydrogenase, pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase and glutaminase. The proper intervention of these metabolic sites may provide a therapeutic advantage that can help overcome resistance to chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Carcinogenesis / drug effects
  • Carcinogenesis / metabolism
  • Glycolysis / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*


  • Antineoplastic Agents