Research Topic

Exploring cancer metabolic reprogramming through molecular imaging

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Oncogene-driven reprogramming of energy metabolism has been added in 2011 to the list of general cancer hallmarks originally introduced by Hanahan and Weinberg to rationalize the complexities of neoplastic diseases (Cell 2000). However, a growing evidence points to a more general vision according to which the ...

Oncogene-driven reprogramming of energy metabolism has been added in 2011 to the list of general cancer hallmarks originally introduced by Hanahan and Weinberg to rationalize the complexities of neoplastic diseases (Cell 2000). However, a growing evidence points to a more general vision according to which the metabolic reprogramming of cancer cells is not restricted to the deregulated cellular bioenergetics linked to aerobic glycolysis, but also involves a wider network of concerted reactions redirecting carbon and phosphorus fluxes through the pathways responsible for the biosynthesis of nucleotides, neutral lipid and phospholipids and the production of second messengers essential for cell growth and tumor invasiveness in a hostile tumor environment. Multiple efforts recently addressed to elucidate some key mechanisms of such a more comprehensive oncogene-driven metabolic rewiring already led to the identification of some new metabolic signatures of malignancy, thus providing the grounds for improving cancer diagnosis and assessing tumor response to therapy using appropriate molecular imaging approaches. Among the latter, the recent technological evolution of magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and spectroscopic imaging (MRSI), functional MR imaging (fMRI), positron emission tomography (PET), and optical imaging, combined with last-generation cellular imaging approaches opened new ways to explore and monitor the effects of metabolic reprogramming in cancer, as a most versatile tool developed by tumor cells to counteract the effects of microenvironment and eventually resist the attack of anticancer treatments. The progress of high-tech engineering and molecular imaging technologies, combined with the new generation genomic, proteomic and phosphoproteomic approaches, are progressively improving the effectiveness of image-based interventions in cancer and also provide the bases to design and validate new targeted therapies.
This Frontiers Research Topic will focus on current achievements, challenges and needs in the application of molecular imaging methods to explore this wider cancer metabolic reprogramming and evaluate its impact on clinical decisions and patient outcome. Major attention will be focused on the effects exerted on MRS/MRSI, fMRI, PET and optical imaging features by the molecular mechanisms responsible for oncogene-driven metabolic reprogramming in cancer, including: deregulated balance between glycolysis and TCA cycle; altered metabolic fluxes through the pentose phosphate pathway; aberrant choline/ethanolamine phospholipid biosynthesis and catabolism; altered metabolism and trafficking of neutral lipids; and the relationships between the network of these metabolic changes and the key-reactions responsible for controlling the balance between ATP levels, phosphatome activity and carbon fluxes implicated in cell growth and survival.
Review articles, comments on perspectives and original research articles on humans and experimental models (including cell cultures and animals) are welcome to build up an open forum on impact, needs and challenges of this cutting-edge research field.


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