Sterol synthesis pathway inhibition as a target for cancer treatment

Sara Feltrin, Francesco Ravera, Noemi Traversone, Lorenzo Ferrando, Davide Bedognetti, Alberto Ballestrero, Gabriele Zoppoli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Sterol synthesis is a highly complex and integrated pathway in mammals. In the present review, we briefly summarize the main steps of this pathway, especially concerning its main rate-limiting enzymes, HMG-CoA reductase (HMGCR) and squalene epoxidase (SQLE), in relation with cancer. We focus on studies reporting key findings linking cholesterol with cancer. The inhibition of HMGCR and SQLE to prevent and inhibit cancer are reviewed. Finally, a pan-cancer review of publicly available data on genomic aberrations in the main enzymes involved in sterol biosynthesis and their transcription factors is reported, providing hitherto unexplored findings that may be the subject of future research in cancer metabolomics and tumor targeted treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-30
Number of pages12
JournalCancer Letters
Publication statusPublished - Nov 28 2020


  • Cholesterol
  • Genomic aberrations
  • HMG-CoA reductase
  • Squalene epoxidase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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