The role of cancer cell bioenergetics in dormancy and drug resistance

Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2023 Mar;42(1):87-98. doi: 10.1007/s10555-023-10081-7. Epub 2023 Jan 25.


While anti-cancer drug treatments are often effective for the clinical management of cancer, these treatments frequently leave behind drug-tolerant persister cancer cells that can ultimately give rise to recurrent disease. Such persistent cancer cells can lie dormant for extended periods of time, going undetected by conventional clinical means. Understanding the mechanisms that such dormant cancer cells use to survive, and the mechanisms that drive emergence from dormancy, is critical to the development of improved therapeutic strategies to prevent and manage disease recurrence. Cancer cells often exhibit metabolic alterations compared to their non-transformed counterparts. An emerging body of evidence supports the notion that dormant cancer cells also have unique metabolic adaptations that may offer therapeutically targetable vulnerabilities. Herein, we review mechanisms through which cancer cells metabolically adapt to persist during drug treatments and develop drug resistance. We also highlight emerging therapeutic strategies to target dormant cancer cells via their metabolic features.

Keywords: Cancer; Energy; Fatty acid; Glucose; Metabolism; Tumor.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents* / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms* / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents