Despite the progress achieved in chemo- and radiotherapy, cancer is still a leading life-threatening pathology. In that sense, there is a need for novel therapeutic strategies based on our current knowledge of cancer biology. Among the phenotypical features of cancer cells, two of them are of particular interest: their nearly universal glycolytic phenotype and their sensitivity towards an oxidative stress, both resulting from the combination of high anabolic needs and hypoxic growth conditions. By using menadione (vitamin K3) and ascorbate (vitamin C), we took advantage of these features to develop an original approach that consists in the exposure of cancer cells to an oxidant insult. When used in combination, these compounds exhibit a synergistic action and are devoid of major toxicity in vivo. Thus, this review is dedicated to the analysis of the molecular pathways by which this promising combination exerts its antitumoural effect.
Keywords: Ascorbate, menadione, cancer, oxidative stress, glycolysis, cell death
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