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Oncol Res Treat. 2015;38(3):117-22. doi: 10.1159/000375435. Epub 2015 Feb 19.

Warburg effect or reverse Warburg effect? A review of cancer metabolism.

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The Key Laboratory of Urology, Department of Urology, The Affiliated Hospital of Qingdao University, Qingdao, China.


Cancer is a major threat to human health. A considerable amount of research has focused on elucidating the nature of cancer from its pathogenesis to treatment and prevention. Tumor cell metabolism has been considered a hallmark of cancer. Cancer cells differ from normal cells through unlimited cell division, and show a greater need for energy for their rapid growth and duplication. Research on glycometabolism, as the key point of energy metabolism, has played a unique role. In the 1920s, Warburg found that cancer cells prefer to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP) by glycolysis, which is a less efficient pathway compared to oxidative phosphorylation. This striking discovery, called 'the Warburg effect', has influenced and guided the study of the mechanism and treatment of tumors for generations, but its causal relationship with cancer progression is still unclear. Some studies have now shown contradicting evidence and a new hypothesis, the reverse Warburg effect, has been put forward, in which cancer cells produce most of their ATP via glycolysis, even under aerobic conditions. In this review we discuss the new points concerning the energy metabolism of a tumor, as well as the current facts and perspectives.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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