Metabolic Constrains Rule Metastasis Progression

Niccolo' Roda, Valentina Gambino, Marco Giorgio

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Metastasis formation accounts for the majority of tumor-associated deaths and consists of different steps, each of them being characterized by a distinctive adaptive phenotype of the cancer cells. Metabolic reprogramming represents one of the main adaptive phenotypes exploited by cancer cells during all the main steps of tumor and metastatic progression. In particular, the metabolism of cancer cells evolves profoundly through all the main phases of metastasis formation, namely the metastatic dissemination, the metastatic colonization of distant organs, the metastatic dormancy, and ultimately the outgrowth into macroscopic lesions. However, the metabolic reprogramming of metastasizing cancer cells has only recently become the subject of intense study. From a clinical point of view, the latter steps of the metastatic process are very important, because patients often undergo surgical removal of the primary tumor when cancer cells have already left the primary tumor site, even though distant metastases are not clinically detectable yet. In this scenario, to precisely elucidate if and how metabolic reprogramming drives acquisition of cancer-specific adaptive phenotypes might pave the way to new therapeutic strategies by combining chemotherapy with metabolic drugs for better cancer eradication. In this review we discuss the latest evidence that claim the importance of metabolic adaptation for cancer progression.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 11 2020


  • cancer therapy
  • epithelial-mesenchymal transition
  • metastasis
  • oncometabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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