The 'Achilles Heel' of Metabolism in Renal Cell Carcinoma: Glutaminase Inhibition as a Rational Treatment Strategy.

An important hallmark of cancer is 'metabolic reprogramming' or the rewiring of cellular metabolism to support rapid cell proliferation [1-5]. Metabolic reprogramming through oncometabolite-mediated transformation or activation of oncogenes in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) globally impacts energy production as well as glucose and glutamine utilization in RCC cells, which can promote dependence on glutamine supply to support cell growth and proliferation [6, 7]. Novel inhibitors of glutaminase, a key enzyme in glutamine metabolism, target glutamine addiction as a viable treatment strategy in metastatic RCC (mRCC). Here, we review glutamine metabolic pathways and how changes in cellular glutamine utilization enable the progression of RCC. This overview provides scientific rationale for targeting this pathway in patients with mRCC. We will summarize the current understanding of cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying anti-tumor efficacy of glutaminase inhibitors in RCC, provide an overview of clinical efforts targeting glutaminase in mRCC, and review approaches for identifying biomarkers for patient stratification and detecting therapeutic response early on in patients treated with this novel class of anti-cancer drug. Ultimately, results of ongoing clinical trials will demonstrate whether glutaminase inhibition can be a worthy addition to the current armamentarium of drugs used for patients with mRCC.

Kidney cancer. 2019 Feb 05*** epublish ***

Christian R Hoerner, Viola J Chen, Alice C Fan

Division of Oncology, Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, CA, USA.

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