Cancer Cells Become Fat Cells

  • Author: Marek Czykanski
  • Published: 20 January 2019
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
  • Source / Publisher: Cancer Cell
thumbnail image: Cancer Cells Become Fat Cells

Cancer cells can adapt to changing conditions using a cellular process that usually takes place during embryonic development. When the cells receive certain external signals, they pass through the so-called epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). In this process, epithelial cells are transformed into a stem-cell-like state.


EMT is important for the development of organs in embryos: The cells become mobile and can differentiate into different cell types. In adults, this cellular remodeling program is usually only used for wound healing. However, EMT can also be activated in cancer cells and enables them to form metastases. Since the cancer cells are particularly adaptable in this phase, this might offer a starting point for potential therapies.


Dana Ishay Ronen, University of Basel, Switzerland, and colleagues have used mice with particularly aggressive human breast cancer tumors to see whether EMT can be used to reprogram the cancer cells into more harmless variants. Over a period of three weeks, the mice were given the anti-cancer drug trametinib and rosiglitazone, which is used in diabetes treatment. Earlier studies had shown that rosiglitazone can stimulate malignant cells to re-differentiate.


The researchers found that breast cancer cells that underwent EMT developed into fat cells that could hardly be distinguished from normal fat cells. While cancer spread into the lungs of the control animals, the animals treated with the combination therapy did not develop metastases. Further cell experiments indicated that once converted, the former cancer cells remain fat cells. Although the therapy is unable to completely transform the primary tumor into fat, the reprogramming of a critical number of tumor cells could make the tumor more sensitive to conventional chemotherapy.


 

Article Views: 794

Sign in Area

Please sign in below

Additional Sign In options

Please note that to comment on an article you must be registered and logged in.
Registration is for free, you may already be registered to receive, e.g., the newsletter. When you register on this website, please ensure you view our terms and conditions. All comments are subject to moderation.

Article Comments - To add a comment please sign in

Bookmark and Share

If you would like to reuse any content, in print or online, from ChemistryViews.org, please contact us first for permission. more


CONNECT:

ChemistryViews.org on Facebook

ChemistryViews.org on Twitter ChemistryViews.org on YouTube ChemistryViews.org on LinkedIn Sign up for our free newsletter


A product of ChemPubSoc Europe (16 European Chemical Societies)and Wiley-VCH