Fundamentals of cancer metabolism

Sci Adv. 2016 May 27;2(5):e1600200. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1600200. eCollection 2016 May.


Tumors reprogram pathways of nutrient acquisition and metabolism to meet the bioenergetic, biosynthetic, and redox demands of malignant cells. These reprogrammed activities are now recognized as hallmarks of cancer, and recent work has uncovered remarkable flexibility in the specific pathways activated by tumor cells to support these key functions. In this perspective, we provide a conceptual framework to understand how and why metabolic reprogramming occurs in tumor cells, and the mechanisms linking altered metabolism to tumorigenesis and metastasis. Understanding these concepts will progressively support the development of new strategies to treat human cancer.

Keywords: Cancer; ROS; glycolysis; metabolism; mitochondria; oncogenes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Macromolecular Substances / metabolism
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Reactive Oxygen Species