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Dietary glucose affects the levels of a powerful oncogene in mice
Date:11/14/2012

WASHINGTON An animal study conducted by researchers at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center raises questions about the consequences of diet specifically glucose, the plant-based sugar that fuels cell life on increased activity of an oncogene that drives tumor growth.

In the study published online today in the journal Cell Cycle, the scientists report, for the first time, that high levels of glucose in the diet of mice with cancer is linked to increased expression of mutant p53 genes. Normal p53 acts as a tumor suppressor, but many scientists believe that mutant p53 acts as an oncogene, pushing cancer growth. High levels of mutant p53 expression in a wide variety of human tumors has long been linked to cancer aggressiveness, resistance to therapy, worse outcomes and even relapse after therapy.

The findings do not mean that cancer patients should cut back on the sugar in their diets, says the study's senior investigator, Maria Laura Avantaggiati, M.D., associate professor of oncology at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC).

"We have not studied the effect of glucose on cancer growth in humans, so we cannot make that link at this point," she says. "Furthermore, there are many different types of p53 mutations and we have studied only some of them. But if we can show that this is a generalized phenomenon, it could have important implications for care, and may help explain the observation that human diet does affect cancer treatment and growth."

Avantaggiati adds that the study tested different components of the diet and found that complete starvation, among other factors, did not have any effect on the levels of mutant p53 in laboratory-cultured cancer cells. She also adds that specific research examining if different components of the diet, aside from glucose, will contribute to the growth of tumors harboring p53 mutations is necessary.

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Contact: Karen Mallet
km463@georgetown.edu
Georgetown University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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