A review in Nature by Grahame Hardie of the Division of Cell Signalling and Immunology at CLS and Luke O’Neill (Trinity College Dublin) suggests that AMPK-activating drugs have both anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. The review, “Metabolism of inflammation limited by AMPK and pseudo-starvation”, (L. J. O'Neill & D. G. Hardie, Nature 493, 346–355, 17 January 2013, doi:10.1038/nature11862) notes that some anti-inflammatory agents might act by inducing, through activation of AMP-activated protein kinase, a state akin to starvation. This would cause metabolic changes that would limit inflammation.
Professor Hardie commented, “The review in Nature resulted from a conversation between myself and Luke O'Neill at the College retreat in Crieff last year, where Luke was guest speaker. We were intrigued by the very similar metabolic changes that occur in cancer cells and cells involved in inflammation, both of which would be opposed by activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). Our review discussed these observations and presented the evidence that AMPK-activating drugs (such as salicylate, derived from aspirin breakdown) might consequently have both anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects.”