Regulation of succinate dehydrogenase and role of succinate in cancer

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2020 Feb:98:4-14. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2019.04.013. Epub 2019 May 1.


Succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) has been classically considered a mitochondrial enzyme with the unique property to participate in both the citric acid cycle and the electron transport chain. However, in recent years, several studies have highlighted the role of the SDH substrate, i.e. succinate, in biological processes other than metabolism, tumorigenesis being the most remarkable. For this reason, SDH has now been defined a tumor suppressor and succinate an oncometabolite. In this review, we discuss recent findings regarding alterations in SDH activity leading to succinate accumulation, which include SDH mutations, regulation of mRNA expression, post-translational modifications and endogenous SDH inhibitors. Further, we report an extensive examination of the role of succinate in cancer development through the induction of epigenetic and metabolic alterations and the effects on epithelial to mesenchymal transition, cell migration and invasion, and angiogenesis. Finally, we have focused on succinate and SDH as diagnostic markers for cancers having altered SDH expression/activity.

Keywords: Cancer; Metabolism; Oncometabolites; SDH; Succinate.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / genetics
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Succinate Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Succinate Dehydrogenase / metabolism*
  • Succinic Acid / metabolism*


  • Succinic Acid
  • Succinate Dehydrogenase