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Annu Rev Pathol. 2017 Jan 24;12:515-545. doi: 10.1146/annurev-pathol-012615-044329. Epub 2016 Dec 21.

Metabolic Reprogramming in Brain Tumors.

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Department of Pathology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48109; email:
Cancer Biology and Genetics Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York, 10065; email:


Next-generation sequencing has substantially enhanced our understanding of the genetics of primary brain tumors by uncovering several novel driver genetic alterations. How many of these genetic modifications contribute to the pathogenesis of brain tumors is not well understood. An exciting paradigm emerging in cancer biology is that oncogenes actively reprogram cellular metabolism to enable tumors to survive and proliferate. We discuss how some of these genetic alterations in brain tumors rewire metabolism. Furthermore, metabolic alterations directly impact epigenetics well beyond classical mechanisms of tumor pathogenesis. Metabolic reprogramming in brain tumors is also influenced by the tumor microenvironment contributing to drug resistance and tumor recurrence. Altered cancer metabolism can be leveraged to noninvasively image brain tumors, which facilitates improved diagnosis and the evaluation of treatment effectiveness. Many of these aspects of altered metabolism provide novel therapeutic opportunities to effectively treat primary brain tumors.


IDH mutation; glioma; glucose; glutamine; imaging; treatment

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