The Warburg effect and mass spectrometry-based proteomic analysis

Weidong Zhou*, Lance A. Liotta, Emanuel F. Petricoin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Compared to normal cells, cancer cells have a unique metabolism by performing lactic acid fermentation in the presence of oxygen, also known as the Warburg effect. Researchers have proposed several hypotheses to elucidate the phenomenon, but the mechanism is still an enigma. In this review, we discuss three typical models, such as "damaged mitochondria", "adaptation to hypoxia", and "cell proliferation requirement", as well as contributions from mass spectrometry analysis toward our understanding of the Warburg effect. Mass spectrometry analysis supports the "adaptation to hypoxia" model that cancer cells are using quasi-anaerobic fermentation to reduce oxygen consumption in vivo. We further propose that hypoxia is an early event and it plays a crucial role in carcinoma initiation and development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-218
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Genomics and Proteomics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer metabolism
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Review
  • Warburg effect


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