Role of Warburg Effect in Cardiovascular Diseases: A Potential Treatment Option

The Open Cardiovascular Medicine Journal 22 Mar 2021 REVIEW ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874192402115010006



Under normal conditions, the heart obtains ATP through the oxidation of fatty acids, glucose, and ketones. While fatty acids are the main source of energy in the heart, under certain conditions, the main source of energy shifts to glucose where pyruvate converts into lactate, to meet the energy demand. The Warburg effect is the energy shift from oxidative phosphorylation to glycolysis in the presence of oxygen. This effect is observed in tumors as well as in diseases, including cardiovascular diseases. If glycolysis is more dominant than glucose oxidation, the two pathways uncouple, contributing to the severity of the heart condition. Recently, several studies have documented changes in metabolism in several cardiovascular diseases; however, the specific mechanisms remain unclear.


This literature review was conducted by an electronic database of Pub Med, Google Scholar, and Scopus published until 2020. Relevant papers are selected based on inclusion and exclusion criteria.


A total of 162 potentially relevant articles after the title and abstract screening were screened for full-text. Finally, 135 papers were included for the review article.


This review discusses the effects of alterations in glucose metabolism, particularly the Warburg effect, on cardiovascular diseases, including heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and cardiac hypertrophy.


Reversing the Warburg effect could become a potential treatment option for cardiovascular diseases.

Keywords: Warburg effect, Metabolism, Cardiovascular disease, Atrial fibrillation, Heart failure, Cardiac hypertrophy.
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