Aberrant lipid metabolism as an emerging therapeutic strategy to target cancer stem cells

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Stem Cells


Emerging evidence in cancer metabolomics has identified reprogrammed metabolic pathways to be a major hallmark of cancer, among which deregulated lipid metabolism is a prominent field receiving increasing attention. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) comprise <0.1% of the tumor bulk and possess high self-renewal, tumor-initiating properties, and are responsible for therapeutic resistance, disease recurrence, and tumor metastasis. Hence, it is imperative to understand the metabolic rewiring occurring in CSCs, especially their lipid metabolism, on which there have been recent reports. CSCs rely highly upon lipid metabolism for maintaining their stemness properties and fulfilling their biomass and energy demands, ultimately leading to cancer growth and invasion. Hence, in this review we will shed light on the aberrant lipid metabolism that CSCs exploit to boost their survival, which comprises upregulation in de novo lipogenesis, lipid droplet synthesis, lipid desaturation, and β-oxidation. Furthermore, the metabolic regulators involved in the process, such as key lipogenic enzymes, are also highlighted. Finally, we also summarize the therapeutic strategies targeting the key regulators involved in CSCs' lipid metabolism, which thereby demonstrates the potential to develop powerful and novel therapeutics against the CSC lipid metabolome.

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