Metabolic Processes of Cancer Cells

1770 WordsFeb 18, 20187 Pages
In healthy multicellular organisms, the majority of cells are exposed to a constant supply of nutrients. When this supply exceeds the nutrient levels required for cell division, specialized regulatory systems prevent uncontrolled cellular proliferation. In other words, cells only take up nutrients from their environment upon stimulation by growth factors. By acquiring mutations that alter the receptor-initiated signaling pathways, cancer cells are able to overcome the growth factor dependence exhibited by normal cells. These oncogenic mutations promote the uptake of nutrients, particularly glucose, and lead to improved cell survival and growth [1,3]. The realization that cancerous cells have altered pathways of nutrient uptake and metabolism has brought renewed attention to the work of Otto Warburg, a physiologist, medical doctor, and Nobel laureate. In 1924, Otto Warburg discovered that regardless of oxygen availability, cancer cells display much higher rates of glycolysis than healthy cells. His research consisted of a series of experiments in which he compared the oxygen consumption and lactic acid production of cancerous and healthy cells. The findings demonstrated that although both cell types produced similar quantities of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), lactic acid production was significantly higher among the cancerous cells. This enhanced conversion of glucose to lactate in cancer cells became known as the Warburg Effect. In normal differentiating cells, most of
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