Mitochondrial remodeling in cancer metabolism and survival: Potential for new therapies

Inês A. Barbosa, Nuno G. Machado, Andrew J. Skildum, Patricia M. Scott, Paulo J. Oliveira

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Mitochondria are semi-autonomous organelles that play essential roles in cellular metabolism and programmed cell death pathways. Genomic, functional and structural mitochondrial alterations have been associated with cancer. Some of those alterations may provide a selective advantage to cells, allowing them to survive and grow under stresses created by oncogenesis. Due to the specific alterations that occur in cancer cell mitochondria, these organelles may provide promising targets for cancer therapy. The development of drugs that specifically target metabolic and mitochondrial alterations in tumor cells has become a matter of interest in recent years, with several molecules undergoing clinical trials. This review focuses on the most relevant mitochondrial alterations found in tumor cells, their contribution to cancer progression and survival, and potential usefulness for stratification and therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)238-254
Number of pages17
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Reviews on Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The present work was supported by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT, Portugal) personal fellowships ( SFRH/BD/48157/2008 to IB, SFRH/BD/66178/2009 to NG). Research work at the authors' laboratory is funded by the FCT ( PTDC/QUI-BIQ/101052/2008 and PTDC/QUI-QUI/101409/2008 to PJO) and the Whiteside Institute for Clinical Research (to AJS). The funders had no role in the manuscript content or decision to publish.


  • Cancer
  • Chemotherapeutics
  • Metabolic remodeling
  • Mitochondria
  • Oxidative stress

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