J Cancer 2016; 7(7):817-822. doi:10.7150/jca.14274 This issue
Department of Radiation Oncology, SMBD Jewish General Hospital, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada.
Ever since its discovery (1924) the Warburg effect (aerobic glycolysis) remains an unresolved puzzle: why the aggressive cancer cells “prefer” to use the energetically highly inefficient method of burning the glucose at the cellular level? While in the course of the last 90 years several hypotheses have been suggested, to this date there is no clear explanation of this rather unusual effect. Even though it is commonly assumed that Warburg effect is a consequence of carcinogenesis, yet another hypothesis could be brought up that the cellular switch to aerobic glycolysis may represent the very point in time when a normal cell becomes cancerous. Furthermore, this switch may happen at the point where the fate of pyruvic acid is determined, caused by the inadequate supply of enzymes that promote citric as opposed to lactic acid cycle. Currently, few clinical observations, like low cancer incidence in Type 1 diabetes mellitus and increased cancer incidence in people on high carbohydrate diets might be called upon to support such hypothesis.
Keywords: Warburg effect, cancer