Biomol Ther  
Cancer Energy Metabolism: Shutting Power off Cancer Factory
Soo-Youl Kim*
Cancer Microenvironment Branch, Division of Cancer Biology, Research Institute, National Cancer Center, Goyang 10408, Republic of Korea
Tel: +82-31-920-2221, Fax: +82-31-920-2006
Received: September 14, 2017; Revised: October 11, 2017; Accepted: October 19, 2017; Published online: December 7, 2017.
© The Korean Society of Applied Pharmacology. All rights reserved.

In 1923, Dr. Warburg had observed that tumors acidified the Ringer solution when 13 mM glucose was added, which was identified as being due to lactate. When glucose is the only source of nutrient, it can serve for both biosynthesis and energy production. However, a series of studies revealed that the cancer cell consumes glucose for biosynthesis through fermentation, not for energy supply, under physiological conditions. Recently, a new observation was made that there is a metabolic symbiosis in which glycolytic and oxidative tumor cells mutually regulate their energy metabolism. Hypoxic cancer cells use glucose for glycolytic metabolism and release lactate which is used by oxygenated cancer cells. This study challenged the Warburg effect, because Warburg claimed that fermentation by irreversible damaging of mitochondria is a fundamental cause of cancer. However, recent studies revealed that mitochondria in cancer cell show active function of oxidative phosphorylation although TCA cycle is stalled. It was also shown that blocking cytosolic NADH production by aldehyde dehydrogenase inhibition, combined with oxidative phosphorylation inhibition, resulted in up to 80% decrease of ATP production, which resulted in a significant regression of tumor growth in the NSCLC model. This suggests a new theory that NADH production in the cytosol plays a key role of ATP production through the mitochondrial electron transport chain in cancer cells, while NADH production is mostly occupied inside mitochondria in normal cells.
Keywords: Cancer energy metabolism, Warburg effect, TCA cycle, Malate-aspartate shuttle, Electron transport chain, Oxidative phosphorylation

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