Cancer stem cell metabolism: A potential target for cancer therapy
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© 2016 The Author(s). Cancer Stem cells (CSCs) are a unipotent cell population present within the tumour cell mass. CSCs are known to be highly chemo-resistant, and in recent years, they have gained intense interest as key tumour initiating cells that may also play an integral role in tumour recurrence following chemotherapy. Cancer cells have the ability to alter their metabolism in order to fulfil bio-energetic and biosynthetic requirements. They are largely dependent on aerobic glycolysis for their energy production and also are associated with increased fatty acid synthesis and increased rates of glutamine utilisation. Emerging evidence has shown that therapeutic resistance to cancer treatment may arise due to dysregulation in glucose metabolism, fatty acid synthesis, and glutaminolysis. To propagate their lethal effects and maintain survival, tumour cells alter their metabolic requirements to ensure optimal nutrient use for their survival, evasion from host immune attack, and proliferation. It is now evident that cancer cells metabolise glutamine to grow rapidly because it provides the metabolic stimulus for required energy and precursors for synthesis of proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids. It can also regulate the activities of some of the signalling pathways that control the proliferation of cancer cells. This review describes the key metabolic pathways required by CSCs to maintain a survival advantage and highlights how a combined approach of targeting cellular metabolism in conjunction with the use of chemotherapeutic drugs may provide a promising strategy to overcome therapeutic resistance and therefore aid in cancer therapy.
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