The HK2 Dependent "Warburg Effect" and Mitochondrial Oxidative Phosphorylation in Cancer: Targets for Effective Therapy with 3-Bromopyruvate

Paweł Lis, Mariusz Dyląg, Katarzyna Niedźwiecka, Young H. Ko, Peter L. Pedersen, Andre Goffeau, Stanisław Ułaszewski (Lead / Corresponding author)

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153 Citations (Scopus)
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This review summarizes the current state of knowledge about the metabolism of cancer cells, especially with respect to the "Warburg" and "Crabtree" effects. This work also summarizes two key discoveries, one of which relates to hexokinase-2 (HK2), a major player in both the "Warburg effect" and cancer cell immortalization. The second discovery relates to the finding that cancer cells, unlike normal cells, derive as much as 60% of their ATP from glycolysis via the "Warburg effect", and the remaining 40% is derived from mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. Also described are selected anticancer agents which generally act as strong energy blockers inside cancer cells. Among them, much attention has focused on 3-bromopyruvate (3BP). This small alkylating compound targets both the "Warburg effect", i.e., elevated glycolysis even in the presence oxygen, as well as mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation in cancer cells. Normal cells remain unharmed. 3BP rapidly kills cancer cells growing in tissue culture, eradicates tumors in animals, and prevents metastasis. In addition, properly formulated 3BP shows promise also as an effective anti-liver cancer agent in humans and is effective also toward cancers known as "multiple myeloma". Finally, 3BP has been shown to significantly extend the life of a human patient for which no other options were available. Thus, it can be stated that 3BP is a very promising new anti-cancer agent in the process of undergoing clinical development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1730
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2016


  • Antineoplastic agents
  • Energy metabolism physiology
  • Glycolysis
  • Hexokinase
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms
  • Mitochondria
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Oxidative phosphorylation
  • Pyruvates
  • Journal article
  • Review


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