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Immunometabolism in Cancer at a Glance


Immunometabolism in Cancer at a Glance

Katrin Singer et al. Dis Model Mech.


The scientific knowledge about tumor metabolism has grown at a fascinating rate in recent decades. We now know that tumors are highly active both in their metabolism of available nutrients and in the secretion of metabolic by-products. However, cancer cells can modulate metabolic pathways and thus adapt to specific nutrients. Unlike tumor cells, immune cells are not subject to a 'micro-evolution' that would allow them to adapt to progressing tumors that continuously develop new mechanisms of immune escape. Consequently, immune cells are often irreversibly affected and may allow or even support cancer progression. The mechanisms of how tumors change immune cell function are not sufficiently explored. It is, however, clear that commonly shared features of tumor metabolism, such as local nutrient depletion or production of metabolic 'waste' can broadly affect immune cells and contribute to immune evasion. Moreover, immune cells utilize different metabolic programs based on their subtype and function, and these immunometabolic pathways can be modified in the tumor microenvironment. In this review and accompanying poster, we identify and describe the common mechanisms by which tumors metabolically affect the tumor-infiltrating cells of native and adaptive immunity, and discuss how these mechanisms may lead to novel therapeutic opportunities.

Keywords: Cancer; Metabolism; Metabolites; Nutrients; T cells; Tumor immunology.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interestsThe authors declare that they do not have any competing or financial interests.

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