Fatty acid metabolism in breast cancer subtypes

Marie E. Monaco _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:29487-29500. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.15494

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Marie E. Monaco1,2

1 Department of Neuroscience & Physiology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA

2 Veterans Affairs New York Harbor Healthcare System, New York, NY, USA

Correspondence to:

Marie E. Monaco, email:

Keywords: fatty acid metabolism, molecular subtype, breast cancer

Received: October 19, 2016 Accepted: February 06, 2017 Published: February 18, 2017


Dysregulation of fatty acid metabolism is recognized as a component of malignant transformation in many different cancers, including breast; yet the potential for targeting this pathway for prevention and/or treatment of cancer remains unrealized. Evidence indicates that proteins involved in both synthesis and oxidation of fatty acids play a pivotal role in the proliferation, migration and invasion of breast cancer cells. The following essay summarizes data implicating specific fatty acid metabolic enzymes in the genesis and progression of breast cancer, and further categorizes the relevance of specific metabolic pathways to individual intrinsic molecular subtypes of breast cancer. Based on mRNA expression data, the less aggressive luminal subtypes appear to rely on a balance between de novo fatty acid synthesis and oxidation as sources for both biomass and energy requirements, while basal-like, receptor negative subtypes overexpress genes involved in the utilization of exogenous fatty acids. With these differences in mind, treatments may need to be tailored to individual subtypes.

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