Amino Acid May Reprogram Liver Cancer Metabolism To Drive Growth
Arginine – an essential amino acid – may alter liver metabolism to promote tumor growth.
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Cancer cells are chameleons. They completely change their metabolism to grow continuously. University of Basel scientists have discovered that high levels of the amino acid arginine drive metabolic reprogramming to promote tumor growth. This study suggests new avenues to improve liver cancer treatment.
The liver is a vital organ with many important functions in the body. It metabolizes nutrients, stores energy, regulates the blood sugar level and plays a crucial role in detoxifying and removing harmful components and drugs. Liver cancer is one of the world’s most lethal types of cancer. Conditions that cause liver cancer include obesity, excessive alcohol consumption and hepatitis C infection. Early diagnosis and appropriate therapeutic strategies are crucial for improving treatments in liver cancer.
Cancer as a metabolic disease
In the past decade, scientist have made much progress in understanding the multiple facets of cancer. Historically, it has long been viewed as a disorder in cell proliferation. However, there is growing evidence that cancer is a metabolic disease. In other words, cancer arises when cells rewire their metabolism to allow uncontrolled cell proliferation. How do cells change their metabolism and how does this change in turn lead to tumorigenicity? With their new study in “Cell”, researchers led by Professor Michael N. Hall at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, have discovered a key driver of metabolic rewiring in liver cancer cells.
Accumulation of arginine in liver cancer
Healthy liver cells gradually change their behavior when turning into cancer cells. They reprogram their metabolism to grow as fast as possible, for example, they consume much more glucose than normal cells and they enhance the uptake of nutrients.
Reference: Mossmann D, Müller C, Park S, et al. Arginine reprograms metabolism in liver cancer via RBM39. Cell. 2023. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2023.09.011
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