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Changes in Energy Metabolism

To support growth, cancer cells reprogram their energy metabolism to use glycolysis as the main source of energy production–even in the presence of oxygen–in a process known as “aerobic glycolysis.” This change from a resting to a proliferative cell metabolism is characterized by increased glucose and glutamine uptake with increased lactate secretion and oxygen consumption. Tumor cells also have increased levels of oxidative stress, which is caused by accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS).

Glycolysis and Glutaminolysis

The two major metabolic pathways in cancer are glycolysis and glutaminolysis. Glycolysis can be monitored by measuring glucose consumption and lactate secretion in tumors, while glutaminolysis can be monitored by measuring glutamine and glutamate levels. Glutamine and glutamate respond to the increased ROS production of a proliferating cell, as well as supply intermediates for the TCA cycle.

cellular metabolism assays

Cellular Metabolism Assays

Learn how to use plate-based bioluminescent methods to study glycolysis and glutaminolysis in cancer cells.

View webinar

Oxidative Stress

Tumor cells generate high levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) due to increased metabolic activity and oncogenic stimulations. ROS, such as H2O2, promote cell proliferation and genomic instability, leading to tumor progression. However, excessive ROS can suppress tumor growth and induce cell death. In order to counterbalance ROS levels, tumors also produce antioxidants, such as glutathione (GSH), which requires various co-factors (NAD+, NADH, NADP+ and NADPH).

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