Scientists in France have found that fat cells may play a key role in how prostate cancer cells move.
A team at the University of Toulouse found that, in mice, fat cells surrounding the prostate release a protein called CCL7, which sticks to a molecule on the surface of prostate cancer cells called CCR3.
“The next step is to assess if this approach could benefit men with the disease.” - Dr Áine McCarthy, Cancer Research UK
This interaction was able to help the cancerous cells move and spread in the mice, according to the study published in Nature Communications.
By looking at tissue samples from men with prostate cancer, they also showed that higher levels of the CCR3 molecule were more common in more aggressive forms of the disease.
And in tissue samples with higher levels of CCR3, the cancer cells were seen to move outside the prostate gland to the surrounding fat tissue.
“This research in mice sheds light on why obese men with prostate cancer are more likely to have aggressive tumours,” said Dr Áine McCarthy, science information officer at Cancer Research UK.
“It shows for the first time how fat cells surrounding the prostate use chemical signals to talk to tumour cells, enticing them to move and spread around the body. Excitingly, the researchers proved that jamming communications between fat cells and tumour cells stopped the cancer spreading.
“The next step is to assess if this approach, using drugs that are already being developed, could benefit men with the disease,” she added.