Cellular metabolism: A key player in cancer ferroptosis

Cancer Commun (Lond). 2024 Feb;44(2):185-204. doi: 10.1002/cac2.12519. Epub 2024 Jan 13.


Cellular metabolism is the fundamental process by which cells maintain growth and self-renewal. It produces energy, furnishes raw materials, and intermediates for biomolecule synthesis, and modulates enzyme activity to sustain normal cellular functions. Cellular metabolism is the foundation of cellular life processes and plays a regulatory role in various biological functions, including programmed cell death. Ferroptosis is a recently discovered form of iron-dependent programmed cell death. The inhibition of ferroptosis plays a crucial role in tumorigenesis and tumor progression. However, the role of cellular metabolism, particularly glucose and amino acid metabolism, in cancer ferroptosis is not well understood. Here, we reviewed glucose, lipid, amino acid, iron and selenium metabolism involvement in cancer cell ferroptosis to elucidate the impact of different metabolic pathways on this process. Additionally, we provided a detailed overview of agents used to induce cancer ferroptosis. We explained that the metabolism of tumor cells plays a crucial role in maintaining intracellular redox homeostasis and that disrupting the normal metabolic processes in these cells renders them more susceptible to iron-induced cell death, resulting in enhanced tumor cell killing. The combination of ferroptosis inducers and cellular metabolism inhibitors may be a novel approach to future cancer therapy and an important strategy to advance the development of treatments.

Keywords: cancer therapy; cellular metabolism; ferroptosis; ferroptosis inducer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids
  • Ferroptosis*
  • Glucose
  • Humans
  • Iron
  • Neoplasms*


  • Amino Acids
  • Glucose
  • Iron

Grants and funding