Energy homeostasis is crucial for cell fate, since all cellular activities are strongly dependent on the balance between catabolic and anabolic pathways. In particular, the modulation of metabolic and energetic pathways in cancer cells has been discussed in some reports, but subsequently has been neglected for a long time. Meanwhile, over the past 20 years, a recovery of the study regarding cancer metabolism has led to an increasing consideration of metabolic alterations in tumors. Cancer cells must adapt their metabolism to meet their energetic and biosynthetic demands, which are associated with the rapid growth of the primary tumor and colonization of distinct metastatic sites. Cancer cells are largely dependent on aerobic glycolysis for their energy production, but are also associated with increased fatty acid synthesis and increased rates of glutamine consumption. In fact, emerging evidence has shown that therapeutic resistance to cancer treatment may arise from the deregulation of glucose metabolism, fatty acid synthesis, and glutamine consumption. Cancer cells exhibit a series of metabolic alterations induced by mutations that lead to a gain-of-function of oncogenes, and a loss-of-function of tumor suppressor genes, including increased glucose consumption, reduced mitochondrial respiration, an increase of reactive oxygen species, and cell death resistance; all of these are responsible for cancer progression. Cholesterol metabolism is also altered in cancer cells and supports uncontrolled cell growth. In this context, we discuss the roles of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs), which are master regulators of cellular energetic metabolism in the deregulation of the energetic homeostasis, which is observed in cancer. We highlight the different roles of PPAR isotypes and the differential control of their transcription in various cancer cells.
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