Targeting AMPK for cancer prevention and treatment

Weidong Li, Shakir M. Saud, Matthew R. Young, Guohong Chen and Baojin Hua _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:7365-7378. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.3629

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Weidong Li1,3,*, Shakir M. Saud2,3,*, Matthew R. Young3, Guohong Chen4, Baojin Hua1

1 Department of Oncology, Guang’anmen Hospital, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing, China

2 Nutritional Science Research Group, Division of Cancer Prevention, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, Maryland, USA

3 Basic Research Laboratory, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Frederick, Maryland, USA

4 Department of Urinary Surgery, Guang’anmen Hospital, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing, China

* These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Baojin Hua, email:

Guohong Chen, email:

Keywords: AMP activated kinase, cancer, prevention, treatment

Received: February 02, 2015 Accepted: February 26, 2015 Published: March 20, 2015


AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is an important mediator in maintaining cellular energy homeostasis. AMPK is activated in response to a shortage of energy. Once activated, AMPK can promote ATP production and regulate metabolic energy. AMPK is a known target for treating metabolic syndrome and type-2 diabetes; however, recently AMPK is emerging as a possible metabolic tumor suppressor and target for cancer prevention and treatment. Recent epidemiological studies indicate that treatment with metformin, an AMPK activator reduces the incidence of cancer. In this article we review the role of AMPK in regulating inflammation, metabolism, and other regulatory processes with an emphasis on cancer, as well as, discuss the potential for targeting AMPK to treat various types of cancer. Activation of AMPK has been found to oppose tumor progression in several cancer types and offers a promising cancer therapy. This review evaluates the evidence linking AMPK with tumor suppressor function and analyzes the molecular mechanisms involved. AMPK activity opposes tumor development and progression in part by regulating inflammation and metabolism.

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