Reactive oxygen species (ROS) is the collective term for several oxygen containing free radicals, such as hydrogen peroxide. ROS is important in innate immunity, protein folding in the endoplasmic reticulum and as a cell signalling molecule involved in cellular proliferation, survival, differentiation, and gene expression. ROS has been implicated in both hematopoietic stem cell quiescence and hematopoietic differentiation. Consequently, ROS is of considerable interest as a therapeutic target, with both pro-oxidant and anti-oxidant cellular modulation being explored. Recently, it has been established that increased ROS production in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) leads to increased glycolysis and metabolic reprogramming. It is often stated as a key tenet of the Warburg effect, that transformed cells, including AML, show increased aerobic glycolysis accompanied by increased cellular glucose uptake and lactate secretion. This review will summarize ROS state of the art in acute leukemia and how these reactive molecules re-wire metabolism in cancer cells. The review will focus on what are ROS? What are the sources of ROS in hematopoietic cells and their function and how this relates to the Warburg effect and regulation of metabolic pathways in acute leukemias.
Part of the book: Acute Leukemias