Glucose Metabolism and Cancer

Cancer cells could predominantly produce energy by glycolysis even in the presence of oxygen. This alternative metabolic characteristic is known as the “Warburg Effect.” Although the exact mechanisms underlying the Warburg effect are unclear, recent progress indicates that glycolytic pathway of cancer cells could be a critical target for drug discovery. With a long history in cancer treatment, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is recognized as a valuable source for seeking bioactive anticancer compounds.

It  is  well  known  that  malignant  cells  have  accelerated  glucose  uptake  and  metabolism  in  order  to  maintain  their  fast  proliferation rates. With the increased influx of glucose into cancer cells, glycolysis is facilitated through a coordinated regulation of metabolic enzymes and pyruvate consumption.

Shifting from mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation to glycolysis and other pathways such as pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) and denovo fatty acid synthesis in the breast tumor  provides  not  only  energy  but  also  the  materials  needed  for  cell  proliferation.  Glucose  augmentation  in  tumor  cells  can  be  due  to  the  elevated  level  of  glucose  transporter (GLUT) proteins, such  as  the  over-expression  of  GLUT 1 and  expression  of  GLUT 5 in  breast  cancers.  Moreover, other  factors  such  as  hypoxia-inducible  factor-1 (HIF-1), oestrogen  and  growth  factors  are  important  modulators  of  glucose  metabolism  in  the  progression  of  breast  carcinomas.  

Therapies  targeting  at  the  glycolytic  pathway, fatty  acid  synthesis  and  GLUTs  expression  are  currently  being  investigated. Restoring tumor cells to its normal glucose metabolic state would endow tumor specific and accessible treatment that targets glucose metabolism 


Glucose Metabolism in Breast Cancer and its Implication in Cancer Therapy.
[accessed Jun 6, 2016].

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