The considered metabolic waste, lactate, may play a key role in the development of cancer. Normal cells produce energy through oxidative phosphorylation, while cancer cells usually produce energy through glycolysis and lactic acid fermentation. Although glycolysis is less effective than oxidative phosphorylation, increased production of metabolites is beneficial for cell proliferation. The Warburg effect occurs in tumor cells when glucose uptake increases and lactate is produced, even in the absence of oxygen and with fully functioning mitochondria (requirements for oxidative phosphorylation.

However, the exact nature of Warburg’s effect on cancer metabolism thus remains paradoxical.

The hypothesis of galactogenesis, which suggests the predominant role of lactate in cancer that fuels both cancer development and carcinogenic signaling, has been proposed. In particular; lactate is used for angiogenesis, immune system escape, cell migration, and metabolism, metabolism.

In breast cancer, researchers investigated whether endogenous or exogenous lactate acts as an oncometabolite that affects key breast cancer genes in a human breast cancer cell line. The results revealed that lactate increased oncogenic expression by between 150% and 800%. Ιn addition, they found that lactate can be produced in the presence of oxygen. Lactate was a regulator of kinases, which are overexpressed in the presence of lactate, cause cell cycle dysfunction and lead to carcinogenesis. Lactate was found to be a catalyst that activates a mechanism in mutant cells that is necessary to continue the cancer formation process.

This opens a new door to a better understanding of cancer at the metabolic level and is the target of new treatments. Researchers in other cancers such as small cell lung cancer are finding similar results. One way to limit the carcinogenic effect of lactate is exercise. Muscle tissue is resistant to carcinogenesis, as lactate is excreted from muscle fibers during and after exercise. Alternatively, the milk produced in cancer does not clear quickly and is highly concentrated in the cancer microenvironment.

Therefore, personalized exercise programs may be able to help prevent and treat cancer. Lactate, which was considered a waste product, is proving to be an important signaling molecule and an important regulator of genes involved in cancer. Exercise quickly removes lactate from the muscles, while what is produced in cancer remains, is continuously produced and acts as a catalyst for the activation of mutated genes in cancer.

Methods of blocking lactate from cancer cells are being investigated. When the lactate is produced, it must leave the cell through a carrier and the inhibition of carrier production as well as the production of lactate within the cancer cell leads to cell destruction.

Effective targeting of lactate may be a major step towards ending cancer!!!

SOURCE: Univ. Colorado {Frontiers in Oncology 2020}.

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