Amino Acid Depletion Therapies: Starving Cancer Cells to Death

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113 Citations (Scopus)


Targeting tumor cell metabolism is an attractive form of therapy, as it may enhance treatment response in therapy resistant cancers as well as mitigate treatment-related toxicities by reducing the need for genotoxic agents. To meet their increased demand for biomass accumulation and energy production and to maintain redox homeostasis, tumor cells undergo profound changes in their metabolism. In addition to the diversion of glucose metabolism, this is achieved by upregulation of amino acid metabolism. Interfering with amino acid availability can be selectively lethal to tumor cells and has proven to be a cancer specific Achilles' heel. Here we review the biology behind such cancer specific amino acid dependencies and discuss how these vulnerabilities can be exploited to improve cancer therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-381
Number of pages15
JournalTrends in endocrinology and metabolism: TEM
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Amino Acids/metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms/therapy
  • Oxidation-Reduction


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