Anti-Cancer Agents in Proliferation and Cell Death: The Calcium Connection

Elizabeth Varghese, Samson Mathews Samuel, Zuhair Sadiq, Peter Kubatka, Alena Liskova, Jozef Benacka, Peter Pazinka, Peter Kruzliak, Dietrich Busselberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

2 Citations (Scopus)


Calcium (Ca2+) signaling and the modulation of intracellular calcium ([Ca2+]i) levels play critical roles in several key processes that regulate cellular survival, growth, differentiation, metabolism, and death in normal cells. On the other hand, aberrant Ca2+-signaling and loss of [Ca2+]i homeostasis contributes to tumor initiation proliferation, angiogenesis, and other key processes that support tumor progression in several different cancers. Currently, chemically and functionally distinct drugs are used as chemotherapeutic agents in the treatment and management of cancer among which certain anti-cancer drugs reportedly suppress pro-survival signals and activate pro-apoptotic signaling through modulation of Ca2+-signaling-dependent mechanisms. Most importantly, the modulation of [Ca2+]i levels via the endoplasmic reticulum-mitochondrial axis and corresponding action of channels and pumps within the plasma membrane play an important role in the survival and death of cancer cells. The endoplasmic reticulum-mitochondrial axis is of prime importance when considering Ca2+-signaling-dependent anti-cancer drug targets. This review discusses how calcium signaling is targeted by anti-cancer drugs and highlights the role of calcium signaling in epigenetic modification and the Warburg effect in tumorigenesis.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2019



  • anti-cancer drugs
  • apoptosis
  • Intracellular calcium
  • proliferation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry

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