Reversing oncogenic transformation with iron chelation

Gina Abdelaal*, Stephany Veuger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Cancer cells accumulate iron to supplement their aberrant growth and metabolism. Depleting cells of iron by iron chelators has been shown to be selectively cytotoxic to cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. Iron chelators are effective at combating a range of cancers including those which are difficult to treat such as androgen insensitive prostate cancer and cancer stem cells. This review will evaluate the impact of iron chelation on cancer cell survival and the underlying mechanisms of action. A plethora of studies have shown iron chelators can reverse some of the major hallmarks and enabling characteristics of cancer. Iron chelators inhibit signalling pathways that drive proliferation, migration and metastasis as well as return tumour suppressive signalling. In addition to this, iron chelators stimulate apoptotic and ER stress signalling pathways inducing cell death even in cells lacking a functional p53 gene. Iron chelators can sensitise cancer cells to PARP inhibitors through mimicking BRCAness; a feature of cancers trademark genomic instability. Iron chelators target cancer cell metabolism, attenuating oxidative phosphorylation and glycolysis. Moreover, iron chelators may reverse the major characteristics of oncogenic transformation. Iron chelation therefore represent a promising selective mode of cancer therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-124
Number of pages19
JournalOncotarget
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2021

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