For many biological processes, the Goldilocks Principle rules. You don't want too much, or too little, of something, you want it just right.
So it is with the body's delicate concentration of growth factors. Too much of a signaling protein called insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) may fan the flames of cancer, while too little of the protein may cause short stature, dementia and osteoporosis, among other problems.
New research from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine deepens the understanding of how the growth hormone/IGF system is affected by another important actor: p53, the tumor suppressor gene that puts the brakes on cancer. The interplay of the two signaling pathways reinforces questions about the long-term risks of prescribing growth hormone and IGF-I to patients, at the same time that it may suggest a future new avenue for cancer therapy.
The study, which used cell cultures and mice, was published in the October issue of Cancer Biology & Therapy.
"It was already known that the tumor suppressor protein p53, which causes a cell to stop growing or to self-destruct, also acts on genes in the growth hormone/IGF axis to turn down IGF signaling," said pediatric endocrinologist and lead author Adda Grimberg, M.D., of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "In this paper we showed that p53 increases production of insulin-like growth factor binding protein-2, an interaction that was not previously known." That protein, abbreviated as IGFBP-2, binds to IGF-I, and thus makes the growth factor less available to act on the body's tissues.
When the authors used genes to halt IGFBP-2 production by prostate cancer cells in culture, they found that p53 lost its ability to block IGF-I from activating one of its major signaling targets in those cells.
IGF-I is important because, along with naturally produced human growth hormone, it is the major regulator of body growth during childhood. These hormones continue to have important health effects during adulthood, after growth is done.
IGF-I is also of considerable interest to cancer researchers, because of mounting evidence that high levels of the protein contribute to cancer risk. One of the study's co-authors, oncologist Wafik El-Deiry, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania, is internationally prominent for his studies of the p53 protein. "This work provides a novel and important insight into the regulation of growth by the major tumor suppressor p53," Dr El-Deiry said. He added, "For years we've known that p53 regulates another binding protein, IGBFP-3, to inhibit IGF signaling, but now we know that was the tip of the iceberg, as p53 appears to regulate the IGF axis at multiple nodes. It took collaboration between an endocrinologist and a medical oncologist to break this new ground, which has impact on both fields."
"We have no evidence now that either growth hormone or IGF-I actually causes cancer, but IGF-I may contribute to cancer progression and aggressiveness," said Dr. Grimberg. "IGF-I doesn't ignite the fire; it fuels it." At each stage that cancer progresses, she added, "IGF signaling can stimulate cells to behave more dangerously."
The study may have implications for patients receiving growth hormone or other growth-promoting therapies. Recombinant human growth hormone has been prescribed for the past 21 years for children with deficiency of normal growth hormone, to avoid abnormally short stature. However, in a controversial usage, that growth hormone is also prescribed for some short but healthy children with normal IGF-I levels to increase their height. "Excess levels of growth hormone and IGF-I may have long-term health risks," said Dr. Grimberg. "This study shows the interactions among pathways affecting growth and cancer are more complex than we have previously appreciated."
Better understanding of those complexities may have eventual clinical benefits as well, added Dr. Grimberg. "Understanding the fine-tuning of the growth hormone/IGF system at the cellular level may also lead to novel therapies for cancer. If we can develop drugs to safely inhibit IGF signaling, these may improve the effectiveness of conventional anti-cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation."
John Ascenzi | EurekAlert!
Bacteria as pacemaker for the intestine
22.11.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Researchers identify how bacterium survives in oxygen-poor environments
22.11.2017 | Columbia University
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
22.11.2017 | Business and Finance
22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy