How does cancer cell metabolism affect tumor migration and invasion?

Cell Adh Migr. Sep-Oct 2013;7(5):395-403. doi: 10.4161/cam.26345. Epub 2013 Oct 8.


Cancer metastasis is the major cause of cancer-associated death. Accordingly, identification of the regulatory mechanisms that control whether or not tumor cells become "directed walkers" is a crucial issue of cancer research. The deregulation of cell migration during cancer progression determines the capacity of tumor cells to escape from the primary tumors and invade adjacent tissues to finally form metastases. The ability to switch from a predominantly oxidative metabolism to glycolysis and the production of lactate even when oxygen is plentiful is a key characteristic of cancer cells. This metabolic switch, known as the Warburg effect, was first described in 1920s, and affected not only tumor cell growth but also tumor cell migration. In this review, we will focus on the recent studies on how cancer cell metabolism affects tumor cell migration and invasion. Understanding the new aspects on molecular mechanisms and signaling pathways controlling tumor cell migration is critical for development of therapeutic strategies for cancer patients.

Keywords: cancer cell metabolism; cell migration; glutamine; glycolysis; metastasis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Movement / genetics*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Glycolysis
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / pathology
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Stromal Cells / metabolism
  • Stromal Cells / pathology