Copper homeostasis and cuproptosis in tumor pathogenesis and therapeutic strategies
Copper is an indispensable micronutrient for the development and replication of all eukaryotes, and its redox properties are both harmful and beneficial to cells. An imbalance in copper homeostasis is thought to be involved in carcinogenesis. Importantly, cancer cell proliferation, angiogenesis, and metastasis cannot be separated from the effects of copper. Cuproposis is a copper-dependent form of cell death that differs from other existing modalities of regulatory cell death. The role of cuproptosis in the pathogenesis of the nervous and cardiovascular systems has been widely studied; however, its impact on malignant tumors is yet to be fully understood from a clinical perspective. Exploring signaling pathways related to cuproptosis will undoubtedly provide a new perspective for the development of anti-tumor drugs in the future. Here, we systematically review the systemic and cellular metabolic processes of copper and the regulatory mechanisms of cuproptosis in cancer. In addition, we discuss the possibility of targeting copper ion drugs to prolong the survival of cancer patients, with an emphasis on the most representative copper ionophores and chelators. We suggest that attention should be paid to the potential value of copper in the treatment of specific cancers.