Reprogramming of cellular energy metabolism is widely accepted to be a cancer hallmark. The deviant energetic metabolism of cancer cells-known as the Warburg effect-consists in much higher rates of glucose uptake and glycolytic oxidation coupled with the production of lactic acid, even in the presence of oxygen. Consequently, cancer cells have higher glucose needs and thus display a higher sensitivity to glucose deprivation-induced death than normal cells. So, inhibitors of glucose uptake are potential therapeutic targets in cancer. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and a leading cause of cancer death in women worldwide. Overexpression of facilitative glucose transporters (GLUT), mainly GLUT1, in breast cancer cells is firmly established, and the consequences of GLUT inhibition and/or knockout are under investigation. Herein we review the compounds, both of natural and synthetic origin, found to interfere with uptake of glucose by breast cancer cells, and the consequences of interference with that mechanism on breast cancer cell biology. We will also present data where the interaction with GLUT is exploited in order to increase the efficiency or selectivity of anticancer agents, in breast cancer cells.
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