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International Journal of Cell Biology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 639401, 16 pages
Review Article

Natural Compounds as Regulators of the Cancer Cell Metabolism

1Laboratoire de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire du Cancer, Hôpital Kirchberg 9, Rue Edward Steichen, 2540 Luxembourg, Luxembourg
2Department of Pharmacy, College of Pharmacy, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-742, Republic of Korea

Received 20 December 2012; Accepted 22 April 2013

Academic Editor: Young-Joon Surh

Copyright © 2013 Claudia Cerella et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Even though altered metabolism is an “old” physiological mechanism, only recently its targeting became a therapeutically interesting strategy and by now it is considered an emerging hallmark of cancer. Nevertheless, a very poor number of compounds are under investigation as potential modulators of cell metabolism. Candidate agents should display selectivity of action towards cancer cells without side effects. This ideal favorable profile would perfectly overlap the requisites of new anticancer therapies and chemopreventive strategies as well. Nature represents a still largely unexplored source of bioactive molecules with a therapeutic potential. Many of these compounds have already been characterized for their multiple anticancer activities. Many of them are absorbed with the diet and therefore possess a known profile in terms of tolerability and bioavailability compared to newly synthetized chemical compounds. The discovery of important cross-talks between mediators of the most therapeutically targeted aberrancies in cancer (i.e., cell proliferation, survival, and migration) and the metabolic machinery allows to predict the possibility that many anticancer activities ascribed to a number of natural compounds may be due, in part, to their ability of modulating metabolic pathways. In this review, we attempt an overview of what is currently known about the potential of natural compounds as modulators of cancer cell metabolism.