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Tumour cells display hybrid metabolic features: some of their enzymes are phosphorylated as normally observed when catabolic hormones stimulate Gs-coupled receptors, whereas other enzymes adopt a configuration normally found in anabolic situations, mediated via tyrosine kinase receptors. Consequently, tumour cells have to rewire their metabolic pathways differently, whereas differentiated cells seem to respond preferentially to catabolic hormones. This gives mitotic cells a selective advantage since they deplete other cell reserves for their benefit. The pancreatic gamma aminobutyric acid selection switch between anabolism and catabolism explains the process, that is, a deficient release of gamma aminobutyric acid from beta cells leads to a concomitant release of catabolic glucagon and anabolic insulin and to a progressive desensitisation of insulin receptors on differentiated cells. New stem cells, with non-desensitised insulin receptors, respond to the dual anabolic and catabolic signals and rewire their metabolism in cancer mode. The aim of this review was to discuss an alteration of the anabolic–catabolic selection switch.
Cancer metabolism can be explained by a failure of pancreatic gamma aminobutyric acid release, removing a critical selection switch between catabolism and anabolism, affecting differently, differentiated cells and stem cells.