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Amino acids in cancer and cachexia: a review


Article: Amino Acids in Cancer and Cachexia: An Integrated View

Amino acid metabolism is hugely altered in tumours. Cancer cells use amino acids for energy production, which supports cell proliferation. In this sense, their amino acid dependency provides a metabolic vulnerability for treatment. Research has been aimed at starving cancerous cells of amino acids to improve cancer treatment outcomes. However, supplementing amino acids has also shown benefits both in vivo and in vitro. Further research into amino acid supplementation is needed, as deprivation exacerbates cancer cachexia, a risk best avoided in cancer treatment. Supplementing branched-chain amino acids has been proved as beneficial in hepatocellular carcinoma, and an essential amino acid rich diet has demonstrated decreased tumour growth in mice. Understanding more about amino acid metabolism in cancer may provide more efficient, personalised treatments for cancer patients.

This review by Ragni M et al. aimed to discuss amino acid deprivation and supplementation in reducing tumour growth, underscoring the complexity of the metabolic pathways involved.

Key learnings

Altering amino acid supply may aid in reducing tumour growth; more research is needed specifically into how supplementing amino acids may help. This treatment holds great potential to not only reduce tumour size, but to aid those with cancer cachexia, improving patient outcomes and quality of life.

Reviewed by: Z. Beketova

Authors: Ragni M, Fornelli C, Nisoli E & Penna F

Published in: Cancers 2022

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