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Fat cells in breast may connect social stress to triple-negative breast cancer
Date:6/18/2013

Local chemical signals released by fat cells in the mammary gland appear to provide a crucial link between exposure to unrelenting social stressors early in life, and the subsequent development of breast cancer, researchers from the University of Chicago report in the July 2013 issue of the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

Some forms of stress exposure may be associated with an increased risk of certain types of aggressive breast cancer. But the mechanisms linking the biology of social stress to cancer have been hard to identify. To unravel that mechanism, the researchers looked for differences between mice raised in small groups and those that grow up in an isolated settingan established model of chronic stress without social supports.

"We found that exposure to the stress of social isolation leads to reprogramming of genes in fat cells in the mammary glands," said study author Suzanne Conzen, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. "These fat cells then secrete substances that cause nearby pre-cancerous epithelial cells to proliferate more rapidly, accelerating the development of breast cancer. This local effect of fat cells in the breast was completely unanticipated."

The researchers used a genetically altered mouse model of "triple-negative" breast cancera form of the disease that lacks receptors for estrogen, progesterone and HER2, three important treatment targets in humans. Triple-negative cancer, representing about 15 percent of all breast cancers, appears to occur disproportionately in younger women. In this mouse model, animals develop precancerous changes in mammary epithelial cells that later lead to cancer.

The mice testedknown as SV40-T antigen miceall develop tumors by about 16 weeks of age. The researchers previously showed that female mice raised in isolation develop significantly larger, more aggressive, triple negative tumors, and wanted to understand the detailed biology underlyi
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Contact: John Easton
john.easton@uchospitals.edu
773-795-5225
University of Chicago Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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