Metabolic Interactions in the Tumor Microenvironment

Trends Cell Biol. 2017 Nov;27(11):863-875. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2017.06.003. Epub 2017 Jul 19.


Tumors are dynamic pseudoorgans that contain numerous cell types interacting to create a unique physiology. Within this network, the malignant cells encounter many challenges and rewire their metabolic properties accordingly. Such changes can be experienced and executed autonomously or through interaction with other cells in the tumor. The focus of this review is on the remodeling of the tumor microenvironment that leads to pathophysiologic interactions that are influenced and shaped by metabolism. They include symbiotic nutrient sharing, nutrient competition, and the role of metabolites as signaling molecules. Examples of such processes abound in normal organismal physiology, and such heterocellular metabolic interactions are repurposed to support tumor metabolism and growth. The importance and ubiquity of these processes are just beginning to be realized, and insights into their role in tumor development and progression are being used to design new drug targets and cancer therapies.

Keywords: cancer-associated fibroblasts; crosstalk; hypoxia; immune; stroma.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Cell Communication*
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Tumor Microenvironment*


  • Amino Acids
  • Fatty Acids
  • Glucose