WICHITA, Kan., April 27, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For about a century, a known common property of cancer cells is their ability to utilize and catabolize glucose at a high rate. This metabolic alteration of cancer cells is called the ''Warburg phenomenon", that is an increased flow through glycolysis in spite of high oxygen presence, leading to enhanced lactate generation. Even under conditions of plentiful oxygen, cancer cells still choose glucose fermentation. A variety of such abnormalities have been reported over decades of research looking into how cancer cells produce energy to proliferate.
Nina Mikirova, Ph.D., director of research at the Riordan Clinic, published an article in the British Journal of Medicine & Medical Research titled "Bioenergetics of Human Cancer Cells and Normal Cells during Proliferation and Differentiation".
The full article is available online at: http://www.sciencedomain.org/abstract.php?iid=952&id=12&aid=8741 or https://riordanclinic.org/journal-articles/
In the study, cancer and normal cells were compared in three mitochondrial parameters: energy production, lipid (cardiolipin) concentration, and mitochondrial potential. Moreover, the study examined how energy synthesis inhibitors and chemical induced differentiation from cancer to normal cell type affected these parameters. Using human malignant cells, normal fibroblasts, and T Cells, these key parameters that typically describe mitochondrial function were investigated.
The study indicated tumor cancer cells have more energy production and greater mitochondrial potentials. Higher mitochondrial masses indicate proliferation. Proliferating cells showed higher mitochondrial function compared to quiescent cells (confluent monolayers).
The effects of energy production inhibitors on mitochondrial function in normal and cancer cells were also compared. Cancer cell mitochondrial inhibition with specific agents decreased energy levels by 30-40%; while in normal cells energy production was reduced by 60%. Cancer cells appear to better withstand interference with energy synthesis in mitochondria since they rely mainly on glycolysis as an energy producing mechanism.
The same results were found for transformed leukemia cells and normal cells differentiated from leukemia cells. Leukemia cells showed reductions in all three mitochondrial parameters measured when the cells were exposed to the differentiating agent.
In summary, the cancer cell lines examined in this study had higher mitochondrial potentials, cardiolipin levels, and energy production than the normal cell lines, along with increased mitochondrial mass being a major factor. This suggests that cancer cells seem to make up for the apparent insufficiency of aerobic respiration (in terms of energy production) by increasing the glycolytic rate and potentially utilizing glutamine fermentation as an energy source.
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