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Shared survival mechanism explains why 'good' nerve cells last and 'bad' cancer cells flourish
Date:12/15/2008

Specifically, according to the study, cytochrome c's ability to induce death can be turned off if the cellular environment contains high levels of antioxidants. Healthy neurons and cancer cells have increased levels of the antioxidant glutathione (GSH), which is generated by glucose metabolism through the pentose phosphate pathway. Thus, both neurons and cancer cells are able to resist cell death in part via their reliance on glucose metabolism.

"For neurons and cancer cells, evolution has come up with ways to restrict the cell death pathway. Our results provide insight into the mechanism behind this adaptive advantage," Deshmukh said. "They also bring together the fields of cancer and neurobiology and suggest that the mechanisms used by neurons to evade cell death could be the same ones adapted by dividing cells during their progression toward cancer."

The UNC scientist said his lab's further systematic explorations for other similarities between these cell types may offer insights into turning the cell death process back on in cancer cells.


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Contact: Les Lang
llang@med.unc.edu
919-966-9366
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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