Dysregulated lipid metabolism in colorectal cancer

Coleman, O., Ecker, M., Haller, D. (2022). Curr Opin Gastroenterol 38, 162-167.



Purpose of review: Lipid metabolism presents a targetable metabolic vulnerability in colorectal cancer (CRC). Lipid signatures and cancer-cell lipid requirements may serve as noninvasive diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers and as a therapeutic target, respectively. Recent findings: A growing body of new studies highlight the complexity of lipid metabolism in CRC. Cancer cells are able to utilize an alternative fatty acid desaturation pathway, underlining the metabolic plasticity of tumors. CRC tissue shows a robust triglyceride-species signature with prognostic value in CRC patients. Lipidomic analyses in germfree and colonized mice identify a unique lipid signature and suggest that bacteria inhibit metabolism of polyunsaturated fatty acids by blocking desaturase and elongase activities. Cellular stress responses, particularly the well characterized unfolded protein response, are involved in regulating lipid synthesis and homeostasis, and contribute to adaptation of the lipid environment. Together, lipid metabolism, the intestinal microbiota and cellular stress responses unarguably play crucial roles in CRC. Summary: A number of recent advances in our understanding of dysregulated lipid metabolism in CRC underline the importance of this research field. An improved knowledge of the complex interplay between lipid metabolism, cellular stress and the intestinal microbiota in the context of CRC may lead to novel therapeutic strategies.