Hyperglycemia and aberrant O-GlcNAcylation: contributions to tumor progression

  • Andréia Vasconcelos-dos-Santos
  • Rafaela Muniz de Queiroz
  • Bruno da Costa Rodrigues
  • Adriane R. Todeschini
  • Wagner B. Dias


A number of cancer types have shown an increased prevalence and a higher mortality rate in patients with hyperglycemic associated pathologies. Although the correlation between diabetes and cancer incidence has been increasingly reported, the underlying molecular mechanisms beyond this association are not yet fully understood. Recent studies have suggested that high glucose levels support tumor progression through multiple mechanisms that are hallmarks of cancer, including cell proliferation, resistance to apoptosis, increased cell migration and invasiveness, epigenetic regulation (hyperglycemic memory), resistance to chemotherapy and altered metabolism. Most of the above occur because hyperglycemia through hexosamine biosynthetic pathway leads to aberrant O-GlcNAcylation of many intracellular proteins that are involved in those mechanisms. Deregulated O-GlcNAcylation is emerging as a general feature of cancer. Despite strong evidence suggesting that aberrant O-GlcNAcylation is or may be involved in the acquisition of all cancer hallmarks, it remains out of the list of the next generation of emerging hallmarks. Here, we discuss some of the current understanding on how hyperglycemia affects cancer cell biology and how aberrant O-GlcNAcylation stands in this context.


Hyperglycemia Cancer O-GlcNAcylation Hexosamine biosynthetic pathway 



The authors thank Dr. Frederico Alisson Silva for the critical review of the manuscript. This work was supported by Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ) and Fundação do Câncer.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andréia Vasconcelos-dos-Santos
    • 1
  • Rafaela Muniz de Queiroz
    • 1
  • Bruno da Costa Rodrigues
    • 1
  • Adriane R. Todeschini
    • 1
  • Wagner B. Dias
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto de Biofísica Carlos Chagas FilhoUniversidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil

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