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Heterogeneity in Cancer Metabolism: New Concepts in an Old Field

Abstract : Significance: In the last years, metabolic reprogramming, fluctuations in bioenergetic fuels, and modulation of oxidative stress became new key hallmarks of tumor development. In cancer, elevated glucose uptake and high glycolytic rate, as a source of adenosine triphosphate, constitute a growth advantage for tumors. This represents the universally known Warburg effect, which gave rise to one major clinical application for detecting cancer cells using glucose analogs: the positron emission tomography scan imaging. Recent Advances: Glucose utilization and carbon sources in tumors are much more heterogeneous than initially thought. Indeed, new studies emerged and revealed a dual capacity of tumor cells for glycolytic and oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) metabolism. OXPHOS metabolism, which relies predominantly on mitochondrial respiration, exhibits fine-tuned regulation of respiratory chain complexes and enhanced antioxidant response or detoxification capacity. Critical Issues: OXPHOS-dependent cancer cells use alternative oxidizable substrates, such as glutamine and fatty acids. The diversity of carbon substrates fueling neoplastic cells is indicative of metabolic heterogeneity, even within tumors sharing the same clinical diagnosis. Metabolic switch supports cancer cell stemness and their bioenergy-consuming functions, such as proliferation, survival, migration, and invasion. Moreover, re-active oxygen species-induced mitochondrial metabolism and nutrient availability are important for interaction with tumor microenvironment components. Carcinoma-associated fibroblasts and immune cells participate in the metabolic interplay with neoplastic cells. They collectively adapt in a dynamic manner to the metabolic needs of cancer cells, thus participating in tumorigenesis and resistance to treatments. Future Directions: Characterizing the reciprocal metabolic interplay between stromal, immune, and neoplastic cells will provide a better understanding of treatment resistance. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 26, 462-485.
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Géraldine Gentric, Virginie Mieulet, Fatima Mechta-Grigoriou. Heterogeneity in Cancer Metabolism: New Concepts in an Old Field. Antioxidants and Redox Signaling, Mary Ann Liebert, 2017, 26 (9), pp.462-485. ⟨10.1089/ars.2016.6750⟩. ⟨inserm-02454376⟩



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