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Trends Cell Biol. 2008 Apr;18(4):165-73. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2008.01.006. Epub 2008 Mar 4.

Mitochondria in cancer cells: what is so special about them?

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Institute of Environmental Medicine, Division of Toxicology, Karolinska Institutet, Box 210, Stockholm, SE-171 77, Sweden.


The past decade has revealed a new role for the mitochondria in cell metabolism--regulation of cell death pathways. Considering that most tumor cells are resistant to apoptosis, one might question whether such resistance is related to the particular properties of mitochondria in cancer cells that are distinct from those of mitochondria in non-malignant cells. This scenario was originally suggested by Otto Warburg, who put forward the hypothesis that a decrease in mitochondrial energy metabolism might lead to development of cancer. This review is devoted to the analysis of mitochondrial function in cancer cells, including the mechanisms underlying the upregulation of glycolysis, and how intervention with cellular bioenergetic pathways might make tumor cells more susceptible to anticancer treatment and induction of apoptosis.

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