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Pro- and antitumor effects of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species


In cancer, mitochondrial functions are commonly altered. Directly involved in metabolic reprogramming, mitochondrial plasticity confers to cancer cells a high degree of adaptability to a wide range of stresses and to the harsh tumor microenvironment. Lack of nutrients or oxygen caused by altered perfusion, metabolic needs of proliferating cells, co-option of the microenvironment, control of the immune system, cell migration and metastasis, and evasion of exogenous stress (e.g., chemotherapy) are all, at least in part, influenced by mitochondria. Mitochondria are undoubtedly one of the key contributors to cancer development and progression. Understanding their protumoral (dys)functions may pave the way to therapeutic strategies capable of turning them into innocent entities. Here, we will focus on the production and detoxification of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (mtROS), on their impact on tumorigenesis (genetic, prosurvival, and microenvironmental effects and their involvement in autophagy), and on tumor metastasis. We will also summarize the latest therapeutic approaches involving mtROS.

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Works at authors’ labs are supported by European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 642623 RADIATE and No. 722605 TRANSMIT, the Belgian Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (F.R.S.-FNRS), the Belgian Télévie and the Fondation Louvain (all to PS), and the Italian Ministry for University and Research (MIUR, Rita Levi-Montalcini program for young researchers 2014) to PEP. PS is a F.R.S.-FNRS Senior Research Associate. LXZ is a PhD Fellow of Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant No. 722605 TRANSMIT.

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Payen, V.L., Zampieri, L.X., Porporato, P.E. et al. Pro- and antitumor effects of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species. Cancer Metastasis Rev 38, 189–203 (2019).

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  • Cancer
  • Mitochondria
  • Mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (mtROS)
  • Antioxidants
  • Pro-oxidants
  • mitoQ