Dropping in on lipid droplets: insights into cellular stress and cancer

Biosci Rep. 2018 Sep 19;38(5):BSR20180764. doi: 10.1042/BSR20180764. Print 2018 Oct 31.


Lipid droplets (LD) have increasingly become a major topic of research in recent years following its establishment as a highly dynamic organelle. Contrary to the initial view of LDs being passive cytoplasmic structures for lipid storage, studies have provided support on how they act in concert with different organelles to exert functions in various cellular processes. Although lipid dysregulation resulting from aberrant LD homeostasis has been well characterised, how this translates and contributes to cancer progression is poorly understood. This review summarises the different paradigms on how LDs function in the regulation of cellular stress as a contributing factor to cancer progression. Mechanisms employed by a broad range of cancer cell types in differentially utilising LDs for tumourigenesis will also be highlighted. Finally, we discuss the potential of targeting LDs in the context of cancer therapeutics.

Keywords: cancer progression; cell stress; chemoresistance; lipid droplets.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Lipid Droplets / metabolism*
  • Lipid Droplets / ultrastructure
  • Lipid Metabolism / genetics*
  • Lipids / genetics
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Stress, Physiological / genetics*


  • Lipids