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Mechanism found connecting metastatic breast cancer and arthritis
Date:4/1/2012

New research shows it may be no accident when doctors observe how patients suffering from both breast cancer and arthritis seem to have more aggressive cancer. However, the new-found interaction between the two diseases may also suggest a possible treatment.

A potential relationship between metastatic breast cancer and autoimmune arthritis, as suggested by past epidemiological studies, has led researchers from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to perform a series of mouse model experiments that appear to confirm the connection.

"Epidemiological studies have implied that breast cancer survival is significantly lower in patients who also had autoimmune arthritis," noted Pinku Mukherjee, Irwin Belk Distinguished Scholar of Cancer Research at UNC Charlotte, whose lab conducted the experiments. "As there is no obvious reason this should be so, we were interested in exploring possible cancer mechanisms that might explain why."

The experiments point to an intimate relationship between mast cells immune system cells that are located in various tissues and that can cause inflammation and metastatic tumors.

In previously published studies, UNC Charlotte cancer researcher Lopamudra Das Roy and her mentor Mukherjee established that breast cancer associated metastases were significantly higher in arthritic mice, with a threefold increase in lung metastases and a twofold increase in bone metastases.

In their most recent work, the researchers found that mast cells and their associated inflammation are present in larger numbers in the bones and lungs of arthritic mice than they are in non-arthritic mice. Their findings point to a relationship between the cKit receptor found on mast cells and the transmembrane stem cell factor (SCF) ligand found on metastatic breast cancer cells. The interaction between SCF and cKit appears to play a critical role in facilitating metastasis.

"We confirmed the relationship w
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Contact: James Hathaway
jbhathaw@uncc.ed
704-687-5743
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Source:Eurekalert

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