Tumour metabolism

Tumour cells have dynamic and varied demands for nutrients that are dependent on many factors, including the nutrient availability in the tumour microenvironment, crosstalk between stromal cells and oncogenic signalling within tumour cells. The metabolic reprogramming that occurs in tumour cells allows them to survive and grow within the changeable and hostile tumour microenvironment; it can also alter epigenetic regulation and influence antitumour immune responses. The key nutrients oxygen, glutamine, serine, glucose and fatty acids are especially important for tumour cell survival and growth. Metabolic reprogramming can also lead to the production of error products that have roles in tumorigenesis and tumour progression. Therefore, metabolic changes in tumour cells can be used in clinical imaging and are being developed as targets for the treatment of patients with cancer.

The articles in this specially-commissioned Focus on Tumour metabolism tackle the metabolism of key nutrients and metabolic reprogramming that are important in tumour growth and survival, while also considering implications for the clinic.