Fat progenitors 'encourage cancer growth'

16 October 2012

Scientists based in the US have found a new link between obesity and tumour growth, which could support the suggestion that expanding waistlines can contribute to the development of cancer.

Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth) in Houston believe that fat progenitor cells can stem cancer growth by fortifying the vessels that transport blood to the tumours.

According to the team's study, details of which have been published in the American Association for Cancer Research journal, tumours emit a signal that attract progenitor cells from white adipose tissue in mouse models.

Once this process has been completed, the research highlighted that the progenitor cells begin to support the network of blood cells that encourage tumour growth, in a procedure deemed tumor angiogenesis.

Lead author of the study Yan Zhang, a research scientist at the UTHealth Medical School, acknowledged: "Our experiments show that fat progenitors are recruited by tumours, where they incorporate into blood vessels and become fat cells.

"We found that obese animal fat progenitor cells recruited by tumours improved vascular function and, therefore, increased survival and proliferation of cancer cells."

Posted by Jeanette Royston

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