Navigation Links
Liver controls wasting in cancer

Cachexia or wasting is a condition affecting up to 70 percent of cancer patients, depending on the type of cancer. It is characterized by a dramatic loss of body weight that is independent of food intake. Cachexia is seen particularly often and most pronounced in patients suffering from cancers of the digestive tract and the lungs. They may lose up to 80 percent of body fat and skeletal muscle. Muscle loss leads to weakness and immobility of patients and poorer response to treatment. An estimated 20 percent of cancer deaths are considered to be a direct consequence of cachexia, with failure of the respiratory muscles as a frequent cause of death.

"Doctors used to believe that cancer re-programs metabolism in such a way that all energy goes into tumor growth," says Prof. Dr. Stephan Herzig, who heads a joint research department of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg University and Heidelberg University Hospital. However, by now researchers presume that cachexia is the body's response to various harmful stimuli originating directly from the growing tumor. In his endeavor to find the causes of cachexia, Stephan Herzig, an expert in metabolism, took a closer look at the liver as the control center of metabolism for the first time. "Cachexia patients frequently have an inflamed fatty liver this was a major clue for this organ being involved."

The researchers discovered that cancerous mice have extremely low lipid (blood fat) levels meaning that their bodies lack the most important energy source. However, they accumulate fat in the liver. The low lipid levels in the diseased animals are due to their liver releasing only very little VLDL (very low density lipoprotein). This lipoprotein is the vehicle that transports fats in the blood. Moreover, the genes for all major steps of lipogenesis are blocked in the livers of cancerous mice.

"This is a clear indication of a central gene switch in the liver driving cachexia", says Stephan Herzig. The researcher therefore specifically searched for differences in protein switches regulating gene activity and hence hepatic energy metabolism in cancerous and healthy mice. Herzig's team found significant differences in a poorly studied gene switch called TSC22D4, which is found in larger amounts in cancerous mice than in healthy control mice.

Herzig's team demonstrated the key role of TSC22D4 in the onset of cachexia. The researchers specifically silenced the switch in the animals' livers. The organ subsequently went back to producing enough VLDL to make lipid levels in the cancerous animals rise. In addition, the genes involved in lipogenesis got boosted again.

"Our results prove, for the first time, that dramatic loss of body mass may be controlled by the liver," says Stephan Herzig. "We also know by now that TSC22D4 has exactly the same effect in human hepatic cells. There is evidence suggesting that this gene switch can be controlled via specific metabolic products and that we might thus be able to slow down the fatal wasting process. However, this approach has not yet been proven experimentally. This is what we will investigate next."

Contact: Dr. Sibylle Kohlstdt
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres

Related biology news :

1. MVI and Inovio partner to develop malaria vaccines using innovative vaccine delivery tech
2. Transplanted genetically-modified adipose cells offer potential therapy for liver diseases
3. Scale-up of a temporary bioartificial liver support system described in BioResearch Open Access
4. Plumes across the Pacific deliver thousands of microbial species to West Coast
5. Neurotechnology Launches SkyBiometry Spin-off Company to Deliver SaaS Biometric Identification and Feature Analysis
6. More than 3,000 epigenetic switches control daily liver cycles
7. New technique to deliver stem cell therapy may help damaged eyes regain their sight
8. Nanotechnology drug delivery shows promise for treatment of pediatric cancer
9. Delivered meals help seniors stay in their homes
10. Northrop Grumman Delivers Australian Automated Biometric Information System Trial Proof of Concept
11. Liverpool scientists decipher genetic code of wheat
Post Your Comments:
(Date:9/30/2015)... 30, 2015  The global glucose monitoring device and diabetes ... says a new report on the industry from Kalorama Information. Sales ... the market, followed by continuous glucose monitoring and sensor segment, ... market for these products in its latest report, The ... , ...
(Date:9/28/2015)... NEW YORK , Sept. 28, 2015 ... platform, announced today that its expedited traveler ...  CLEAR,s innovative platform transforms travel, bringing a ... for its members. "CLEAR offers ... which enhances customer service," said Jim ...
(Date:9/28/2015)... , September 28, 2015 ... Component (Hardware & Software), Product (Scanner & Others), Application ... & Defense, & Others) & Geography Global - Forecast ... expected to reach USD 3627.90 Million by 2020, at ... Browse 65 market data T ables ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/13/2015)... -- Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN ) and LabCentral announced today ... 2015 selection for Golden Ticket winners, which supply each ... innovative, shared laboratory space designed as a launchpad for ... Mass. Novopyxis and Cocoon Biotech are each ... --> Cambridge, Mass. Novopyxis ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... 2015 Research and Markets( ) has ... Markets for Bone Morphogenetic Protein Growth Factor Therapy - ... --> --> Bone morphogenetic ... of bone after a fracture. In nature, these proteins ... formation of the skeleton. There are twenty different BMPs ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... and SAN DIEGO , ... Mast Therapeutics, Inc. have agreed to collaborate in the ... poloxamer 188 NF, marketed by BASF under the Kolliphor ... a variety of pharmaceutical and biological applications, such as ... is the starting material for Mast,s lead product candidate. ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... October 13, 2015 , ... Exotic Automation & ... solutions and components, is opening its latest Parker Store retail location in Ann, ... Exotic’s second major expansion in Metropolitan Detroit in less than a year. The ...
Breaking Biology Technology: