Metabolic Intersection of Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases: Opportunities for Cancer Therapy

Giang Hoang, Kiet Nguyen, Anne Le

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


According to data from the World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases and cancer are the two leading causes of mortality in the world [1]. Despite the immense effort to study these diseases and the constant innovation in treatment modalities, the number of deaths associated with cardiovascular diseases and cancer is predicted to increase in the coming decades [1]. From 2008 to 2030, due to population growth and population aging in many parts of the world, the number of deaths caused by cancer globally is projected to increase by 45%, corresponding to an annual increase of around four million people [1]. For cardiovascular diseases, this number is six million people [1]. In the United States, treatments for these two diseases are among the most costly and result in a disproportionate impact on low- and middleincome people. As the fight against these fatal diseases continues, it is crucial that we continue our investigation and broaden our understanding of cancer and cardiovascular diseases to innovate our prognostic and treatment approaches. Even though cardiovascular diseases and cancer are usually studied independently [2–12], there are some striking overlaps between their metabolic behaviors and therapeutic targets, suggesting the potential application of cardiovascular disease treatments for cancer therapy. More specifically, both cancer and many cardiovascular diseases have an upregulated glutaminolysis pathway, resulting in low glutamine and high glutamate circulating levels. Similar treatment modalities, such as glutaminase (GLS) inhibition and glutamine supplementation, have been identified to target glutamine metabolism in both cancer and some cardiovascular diseases. Studies have also found similarities in lipid metabolism, specifically fatty acid oxidation (FAO) and synthesis. Pharmacological inhibition of FAO and fatty acid synthesis have proven effective against many cancer types as well as specific cardiovascular conditions. Many of these treatments have been tested in clinical trials, and some have been medically prescribed to patients to treat certain diseases, such as angina pectoris [13, 14]. Other metabolic pathways, such as tryptophan catabolism and pyruvate metabolism, were also dysregulated in both diseases, making them promising treatment targets. Understanding the overlapping traits exhibited by both cancer metabolism and cardiovascular disease metabolism can give us a more holistic view of how important metabolic dysregulation is in the progression of diseases. Using established links between these illnesses, researchers can take advantage of the discoveries from one field and potentially apply them to the other. In this chapter, we highlight some promising therapeutic discoveries that can support our fight against cancer, based on common metabolic traits displayed in both cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
ISSN (Print)0065-2598
ISSN (Electronic)2214-8019


  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Fatty acid oxidation
  • Glutamine metabolism
  • Pyruvate dehydrogenase complex
  • Tryptophan catabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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