Lipid composition of the cancer cell membrane

J Bioenerg Biomembr. 2020 Jul 26. doi: 10.1007/s10863-020-09846-4. Online ahead of print.


Cancer cell possesses numerous adaptations to resist the immune system response and chemotherapy. One of the most significant properties of the neoplastic cells is the altered lipid metabolism, and consequently, the abnormal cell membrane composition. Like in the case of phosphatidylcholine, these changes result in the modulation of certain enzymes and accumulation of energetic material, which could be used for a higher proliferation rate. The changes are so prominent, that some lipids, such as phosphatidylserines, could even be considered as the cancer biomarkers. Additionally, some changes of biophysical properties of cell membranes lead to the higher resistance to chemotherapy, and finally to the disturbances in signalling pathways. Namely, the increased levels of certain lipids, like for instance phosphatidylserine, lead to the attenuation of the immune system response. Also, changes in lipid saturation prevent the cells from demanding conditions of the microenvironment. Particularly interesting is the significance of cell membrane cholesterol content in the modulation of metastasis. This review paper discusses the roles of each lipid type in cancer physiology. The review combined theoretical data with clinical studies to show novel therapeutic options concerning the modulation of cell membranes in oncology.

Keywords: Cancer cells; Lipid membrane; Membrane composition.

Publication types

  • Review