Cancer cells have caught others to work again, and this time even fat cells have become unknown to scientists

▎WuXi AppTec Content Team Editor

Obesity has long been recognized as a risk factor for breast cancer, and obese people have a worse prognosis. And a new study in Cell Reports found that this may be the result of fat cells being captured by cancer cells and becoming fuel bases.

The authors found that fat cells that grow near breast cancer can transform into entirely new cell types, “which provide fertile soil for tumor invasion and growth.” Study leader Professor Philipp Scherer express.

In order to observe changes in fat cells over a long period of time, Professor Scherer and colleagues added special fluorescent markers to the fat cells of mice. They then tried introducing breast cancer cells into mice, or genetically engineering their breast cells to spontaneously become cancerous.

Either way,the fat cells that grow near the tumor will gradually go wrong, they will gradually shrink and change their shape to a different shape than normal fat cells. look.

The authors extracted some of the samples for genetic analysis and found that fat cells initially regressed to an early stage of development and then began to express genetic markers of other cell types, such as connective tissue cells, muscle cells , and even immune cells.

▲ Fat cells (red) transform into strange types (green) when exposed to tumor cells (blue) (Image credit: UT Southwestern Medical Center)

This pattern of gene expression also allows fat cells to function abnormally, and the authors observed that these abnormal cells lost lipids and localized fibrosis. They then provide energy to the tumor, which grows faster with the help of abnormal cells. When the researchers tried to restore the abnormal cells’ lipid-storage capacity, they stopped helping to fuel tumor growth.

The researchers say that the molecular mechanism of the transformation of fat cells into other types is still unclear, but tumors may play a “guiding” role, and they initially found that a signaling pathway in tumors may be involved .

In the future, the research team plans to manipulate this pathway to test whether it can stop breast cancer from growing.


[1] Qingzhang Zhu et al, Adipocyte mesenchymal transition contributes to mammary tumor progression, Cell Reports (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2022.111362

[2] Shape-shifting fat cells fuel breast cancer growth. Retrieved September 26, 2022 from https: -cells-fuel-breast.html