Cancer cells possess remarkable abilities to adapt to adverse environmental conditions. Their survival during severe nutrient and oxidative stress depends on their capacity to acquire extracellular lipids and the plasticity of their mechanisms for intracellular lipid synthesis, mobilisation, and recycling. Lipid droplets, cytosolic fat storage organelles present in most cells from yeast to men, are emerging as major regulators of lipid metabolism, trafficking, and signalling in various cells and tissues exposed to stress. Their biogenesis is induced by nutrient and oxidative stress and they accumulate in various cancers. Lipid droplets act as switches that coordinate lipid trafficking and consumption for different purposes in the cell, such as energy production, protection against oxidative stress or membrane biogenesis during rapid cell growth. They sequester toxic lipids, such as fatty acids, cholesterol and ceramides, thereby preventing lipotoxic cell damage and engage in a complex relationship with autophagy. Here, we focus on the emerging mechanisms of stress-induced lipid droplet biogenesis; their roles during nutrient, lipotoxic, and oxidative stress; and the relationship between lipid droplets and autophagy. The recently discovered principles of lipid droplet biology can improve our understanding of the mechanisms that govern cancer cell adaptability and resilience to stress.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited