Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Breast cancer cells disguise themselves as neurons to cause brain tumors

Date:
January 14, 2014
Source:
City of Hope
Summary:
Treatment and “cure” of breast cancer doesn’t ensure that the disease won’t spread to the brain. Too often, sometimes years after an initial diagnosis and remission, breast cancer cells are discovered growing as new tumors within the brain. Now researchers have found how this happens.

New City of Hope research has uncovered how breast cancer cells evade the immune system and become brain tumors: by masquerading as neurons.
Credit: City of Hope

Treatment and "cure" of breast cancer doesn't ensure that the disease won't spread to the brain. Too often, sometimes years after an initial diagnosis and remission, breast cancer cells are discovered growing as new tumors within the brain. Now City of Hope researchers have found how this happens.

Breast cancer cells masquerade as neurons, allowing them to hide from the immune system, cross the blood-brain barrier and begin to form ultimately-deadly brain tumors, the researchers found.

"The most dreaded location for cancer to spread is the brain," said Rahul Jandial, a City of Hope neurosurgeon who led the study, available online and slated for print publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in February. "As we have become better at keeping cancer at bay with drugs such as Herceptin, women are fortunately living longer. In this hard-fought life extension, brain metastastes are being unmasked as the next battleground for extending the lives of women with breast cancer."

Jandial and other City of Hope scientists wanted to explore how breast cancer cells cross the blood-brain barrier -- a separation of the blood circulating in the body from fluid in the brain -- without being destroyed by the immune system.

"If, by chance, a malignant breast cancer cell swimming in the bloodstream crossed into the brain, how would it survive in a completely new, foreign habitat?"Jandial said. Jandial and his team's hypothesis: Given that the brain is rich in many brain-specific types of chemicals and proteins, perhaps breast cancer cells exploit these resources by assuming similar properties. These cancer cells could potentially deceive the immune system by blending in with the neurons, neurotransmitters, other types of proteins, cells and chemicals.

Taking samples from brain tumors resulting from breast cancer, Jandial and his team found that the breast cancer cells were using the brain's most abundant chemical as a fuel source. This chemical, GABA, is a neurotransmitter used for communication between neurons.

When compared to cells from non-metastatic breast cancer, the metastasized cells expressed a receptor for GABA, as well as for a protein that draws the transmitter into cells. This allowed the cancer cells to essentially masquerade as neurons.

"Breast cancer cells can be cellular chameleons (or masquerade as neurons) and spread to the brain," Jandial said.

Jandial says that further study is required to better understand the mechanisms that allow the cancer cells to achieve this disguise. He hopes that ultimately, unmasking these disguised invaders will result in new therapies.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by City of Hope. The original article was written by Nicole White. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Neman, J. Termini, S. Wilczynski, N. Vaidehi, C. Choy, C. M. Kowolik, H. Li, A. C. Hambrecht, E. Roberts, R. Jandial. Human breast cancer metastases to the brain display GABAergic properties in the neural niche. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2014; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1322098111

Cite This Page:

City of Hope. "Breast cancer cells disguise themselves as neurons to cause brain tumors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114202655.htm>.
City of Hope. (2014, January 14). Breast cancer cells disguise themselves as neurons to cause brain tumors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114202655.htm
City of Hope. "Breast cancer cells disguise themselves as neurons to cause brain tumors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114202655.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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