Increased adipose mass is associated with an elevated risk of breast cancer, but little was known about how fat cells actually contribute to carcinogenesis. In a study appearing online on April 14 in advance of the print publication of the May issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Philipp Scherer and others aimed to identify factors that are secreted by adipocytes and which are present in breast cancer stromal tissue.
In particular, the researchers focus on the adipocyte-derived collagen VI and show that it is a critical factor that promotes early tumor growth within the mammary microenvironment in vivo. The authors show that collagen VI encourages proliferation and survival of malignant cells and mice that lack collagen VI have significantly reduced tumor growth. The authors show substantial enrichment of a fragment of collagen VI on the surface of human breast tumor cells. The same fragment had powerful growth-stimulatory effects on breast cancer cells in vitro.
This study provides the first evidence that the extracellular matrix protein collagen VI can modulate tumor behavior, and offers a potential link between the epidemiological association of increased adipocyte mass and breast cancer.
Source: Eurekalert & others
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