Metabolic challengers selecting tumor-persistent cells

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2024 Mar;35(3):263-276. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2023.11.005. Epub 2023 Dec 9.


Resistance to anticancer therapy still represents one of the main obstacles to cancer treatment. Numerous components of the tumor microenvironment (TME) contribute significantly to the acquisition of drug resistance. Microenvironmental pressures arising during cancer evolution foster tumor heterogeneity (TH) and facilitate the emergence of drug-resistant clones. In particular, metabolic pressures arising in the TME may favor epigenetic adaptations supporting the acquisition of persistence features in tumor cells. Tumor-persistent cells (TPCs) are characterized by high phenotypic and metabolic plasticity, representing a noticeable advantage in chemo- and radio-resistance. Understanding the crosslink between the evolution of metabolic pressures in the TME, epigenetics, and TPC evolution is significant for developing novel therapeutic strategies specifically targeting TPC vulnerabilities to overcome drug resistance.

Keywords: epigenetics; metabolism; therapy resistance; tumor microenvironment; tumor-persistent cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Tumor Microenvironment