Metabolic therapies inhibit tumor growth in vivo and in silico

Sci Rep. 2019 Feb 28;9(1):3153. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-39109-1.


In the recent years, cancer research succeeded with sensitive detection methods, targeted drug delivery systems, and the identification of a large set of genes differently expressed. However, although most therapies are still based on antimitotic agents, which are causing wide secondary effects, there is an increasing interest for metabolic therapies that can minimize side effects. In the early 20th century, Otto Warburg revealed that cancer cells rely on the cytoplasmic fermentation of glucose to lactic acid for energy synthesis (called "Warburg effect"). Our investigations aim to reverse this effect in reprogramming cancer cells' metabolism. In this work, we present a metabolic therapy specifically targeting the activity of specific enzymes of central carbon metabolism, combining the METABLOC bi-therapeutic drugs combination (Alpha Lipoic Acid and Hydroxycitrate) to Metformin and Diclofenac, for treating tumors implanted in mice. Furthermore, a dynamic metabolic model describing central carbon metabolism as well as fluxes targeted by the drugs allowed to simulate tumors progression in both treated and non-treated mice, in addition to draw hypotheses on the effects of the drugs on tumor cells metabolism. Our model predicts metabolic therapies-induced reversed Warburg effect on tumor cells.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / metabolism
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacology
  • Carbon / metabolism
  • Carcinogenesis / drug effects*
  • Carcinoma, Lewis Lung / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Lewis Lung / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Lewis Lung / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • Citrates / pharmacology
  • Diclofenac / pharmacology
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Heterografts
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / metabolism
  • Metformin / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Thioctic Acid / pharmacology


  • Citrates
  • Diclofenac
  • Lactic Acid
  • Thioctic Acid
  • Carbon
  • hydroxycitric acid
  • Metformin
  • Glucose