Bridging the Metabolic Parallels Between Neurological Diseases and Cancer

Shenghao Guo, Yanni Gu, Jiayin Qu, Anne Le

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Despite the many recent breakthroughs in cancer research, oncology has traditionally been seen as a distinct field from other diseases. Recently, more attention has been paid to repurposing established therapeutic strategies and targets of other diseases towards cancer treatment, with some of these attempts generating promising outcomes [1, 2]. Recent studies using advanced metabolomics technologies [3] have shown evidence of close metabolic similarities between cancer and neurological diseases. These studies have unveiled several metabolic characteristics shared by these two categories of diseases, including metabolism of glutamine, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and N-acetyl-aspartyl-glutamate (NAAG) [4–6]. The striking metabolic overlap between cancer and neurological diseases sheds light on novel therapeutic strategies for cancer treatment. For example, 2-(phosphonomethyl) pentanedioic acid (2-PMPA), one of the glutamate carboxypeptidase II (GCP II) inhibitors that prevent the conversion of NAAG to glutamate, has been shown to suppress cancer growth [6, 7]. These promising results have led to an increased interest in integrating this metabolic overlap between cancer and neurological diseases into the study of cancer metabolism. The advantages of studying this metabolic overlap include not only drug repurposing but also translating existing knowledge from neurological diseases to the field of cancer research. This chapter discusses the specific overlapping metabolic features between cancer and neurological diseases, focusing on glutamine, GABA, and NAAG metabolisms. Understanding the interconnections between cancer and neurological diseases will guide researchers and clinicians to find more effective cancer treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
Number of pages20
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

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


  • Cancer
  • GABA
  • GCP II
  • Glutamate
  • Glutamine
  • NAAG
  • Neurological diseases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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