Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fat cells in abdomen fuel spread of ovarian cancer

Date:
November 1, 2011
Source:
University of Chicago Medical Center
Summary:
A large pad of abdominal fat cells provides nutrients that promote the spread and growth of ovarian cancer, the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths in women. This fatty tissue, extraordinarily rich in energy-dense lipids, serves as a rich fuel source, enabling cancer cells to multiply rapidly.

A large pad of fat cells that extends from the stomach and covers the intestines provides nutrients that promote the spread and growth of ovarian cancer, reports a research team based at the University of Chicago in the journal Nature Medicine, published online October 30th, 2011.

Related Articles


Ovarian cancer, the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths in women, tends to spread within the abdominal cavity as opposed to distant organs. In 80 percent of women, by the time ovarian cancer is diagnosed, it has spread to the pad of fat cells, called the omentum. Often, cancer growth in the omentum exceeds the growth of the original ovarian cancer.

"This fatty tissue, which is extraordinarily rich in energy-dense lipids, acts as a launching pad and energy source for the likely lethal spread of ovarian cancer," said study author Ernst Lengyel, MD, PhD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Chicago. "The cells that make up the omentum contain the biological equivalent of jet fuel. They feed the cancer cells, enabling them to multiply rapidly. Gaining a better understanding of this process could help us learn how to disrupt it."

The researchers performed a series of experiments to identify the role of these fat cells as major mediators of ovarian cancer metastasis. The first step was to understand the biological signals that attract ovarian cancer cells to the omentum and use it for rapid growth.

The spread of ovarian cancer cells to the omentum can happen quickly. Ovarian cancer cells injected into the abdomen of healthy mice find their way to the omentum within 20 minutes. The researchers found that protein signals emitted by the omentum can attract the tumor cells. Inhibitors which disturbed these signals reduced this attraction by at least 50 percent.

Once ovarian cancer cells reach the omentum, they quickly develop the tools to devour the sustenance provided by this fatty tissue, reprogramming their metabolism to thrive on lipids acquired from fat cells. Ovarian cancer can rapidly convert the entire omentum, a soft fat pad, into a solid mass of cancer cells.

"This mechanism may not be limited to ovarian cancer cells," the authors note. Fat metabolism may also contribute to cancer development in other environments where fat cells are abundant, such as breast cancer.

A protein known as fatty acid binding protein (FABP4), a fat carrier, may be crucial to this process and could be a target for treatment.

When the researchers compared primary ovarian cancer tissue with ovarian cancer tissue which had spread to the omentum, they found that tumor cells next to omental fat cells produced high levels of FABP4. Cancer cells distant from the fat cells did not produce FABP4.

When they inhibited FABP4, the transfer of nutrients from fat cells to cancer cells was drastically reduced. Inhibition of FABP4 also reduced tumor growth and the ability of tumors to generate new blood vessels.

"Therefore," the authors wrote, "FABP4 emerges as an excellent target in the treatment of intra-abdominally disseminating tumors, which preferentially metastasize to adipose tissue such as ovarian, gastric, and colon cancers."

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the Committee on Cancer Biology at the University of Chicago and Bears Care, the charitable beneficiary of the Chicago Bears Football Club.

Additional authors include Kristin Nieman, Hilary Kenny, Carla Penicka, Andras Ladanyi, Marion Zillhardt, Iris Romero, Diane Yamada, Rebecca Buell-Gutbrod and Katja Gwin of the University of Chicago; Mark Carey and Gordon Mills of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center; Gφkhan Hotamisligil of the Harvard School of Public Health, and Marcus Peter of Northwestern University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kristin M Nieman, Hilary A Kenny, Carla V Penicka, Andras Ladanyi, Rebecca Buell-Gutbrod, Marion R Zillhardt, Iris L Romero, Mark S Carey, Gordon B Mills, Gφkhan S Hotamisligil, S Diane Yamada, Marcus E Peter, Katja Gwin, Ernst Lengyel. Adipocytes promote ovarian cancer metastasis and provide energy for rapid tumor growth. Nature Medicine, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/nm.2492

Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Medical Center. "Fat cells in abdomen fuel spread of ovarian cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111030151549.htm>.
University of Chicago Medical Center. (2011, November 1). Fat cells in abdomen fuel spread of ovarian cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111030151549.htm
University of Chicago Medical Center. "Fat cells in abdomen fuel spread of ovarian cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111030151549.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Malnutrition on the Rise as Violence Flares in C. Africa

Malnutrition on the Rise as Violence Flares in C. Africa

AFP (Jan. 28, 2015) — Violence can flare up at any moment in Bambari with only a bridge separating Muslims and Christians. Malnutrition is on the rise and lack of water means simple cooking fires threaten to destroy makeshift camps where people are living. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Poultry Culled in Taiwan to Thwart Bird Flu

Poultry Culled in Taiwan to Thwart Bird Flu

Reuters - News Video Online (Jan. 28, 2015) — Taiwan culls over a million poultry in efforts to halt various strains of avian flu. Julie Noce reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Media Criticizing Parents For Not Vaccinating Children

Media Criticizing Parents For Not Vaccinating Children

Newsy (Jan. 28, 2015) — As the Disneyland measles outbreak continues to spread, the media says parents who choose not to vaccinate their children are part of the cause. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Bite Victim Making Amazing Recovery

Shark Bite Victim Making Amazing Recovery

AP (Jan. 27, 2015) — A Texas woman who lost more than five pounds of flesh to a shark in the Bahamas earlier this month could be released from a Florida hospital soon. Experts believe she was bitten by a bull shark while snorkeling. (Jan. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins