Cuproptosis: mechanisms and links with cancers

Mol Cancer. 2023 Mar 7;22(1):46. doi: 10.1186/s12943-023-01732-y.


Cuproptosis was a copper-dependent and unique kind of cell death that was separate from existing other forms of cell death. The last decade has witnessed a considerable increase in investigations of programmed cell death, and whether copper induced cell death was an independent form of cell death has long been argued until mechanism of cuproptosis has been revealed. After that, increasing number of researchers attempted to identify the relationship between cuproptosis and the process of cancer. Thus, in this review, we systematically detailed the systemic and cellular metabolic processes of copper and the copper-related tumor signaling pathways. Moreover, we not only focus on the discovery process of cuproptosis and its mechanism, but also outline the association between cuproptosis and cancers. Finally, we further highlight the possible therapeutic direction of employing copper ion ionophores with cuproptosis-inducing functions in combination with small molecule drugs for targeted therapy to treat specific cancers.

Keywords: Cancer; Copper; Cuproptosis; Drug resistance; Immunotherapy; Metabolism; Targeted therapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Death
  • Copper*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / drug therapy


  • Copper