Author(s): Emily I Chen
Mitochondria have an essential role in powering cells by generating ATP following the metabolism of pyruvate derived from glycolysis. They are also the major source of generating reactive oxygen species (ROS), which have regulatory roles in cell death and proliferation. Mutations in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and dysregulation of mitochondrial metabolism have been frequently described in human tumors. Although the role of oxidative stress as the consequence of mtDNA mutations and/or altered mitochondrial functions has been demonstrated in carciongenesis, a causative role of mitochondria in tumor progression has only been demonstrated recently. Specifically, the subject of this mini-review focuses on the role of mitochondria in promoting cancer metastasis. Cancer relapse and the subsequent spreading of cancer cells to distal sites are leading causes of morbidity and mortality in cancer patients. Despite its clinical importance, the underlying mechanisms of metastasis remain to be elucidated. Recently, it was demonstrated that mitochondrial oxidative stress could actively promote tumor progression and increase the metastatic potential of cancer cells. The purpose of this mini-review is to summarize current investigations of the roles of mitochondria in cancer metastasis. Future development of diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for patients with advanced cancer will benefit from the new knowledge of mitochondrial metabolism in epithelial cancer cells and the tumor stroma.