Alcohol consumption has long been linked to cancer and its spread, but the underlying mechanism has never been clear.
Now, researchers at Rush University Medical Center have identified a cellular pathway that may explain the link.
In a study published in the current issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, the researchers found that alcohol stimulates what is called the epithelial–to–mesenchymal transition, in which run-of-the-mill cancer cells morph into a more aggressive form and begin to spread throughout the body.
"Our data are the first to show that alcohol turns on certain signals inside a cell that are involved in this critical transition," said Christopher Forsyth, PhD, assistant professor of medicine and biochemistry at Rush University Medical Center and lead author of the study.
The epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition is a hot area of research right now, implicated in the process whereby cancer cells become metastatic. A large body of laboratory and clinical research suggests that it plays a key role in making cancer cells aggressive.
"Cancer cells become dangerous when they metastasize," Forsyth said. "Surgery can remove a tumor, but aggressive tumor cells invade tissues throughout the body and take over. If we can thwart this transition, we can limit cancer's toll."
The researchers treated colon and breast cancer cell lines with alcohol and then looked for the biochemical hallmarks of the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, including evidence of a transcription factor called Snail and of the receptor for epidermal growth factor. Snail controls the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition; when overexpressed in mice, it induces the formation of multiple tumors. Epidermal growth factor is required by many cancer cells. "They need lots of it," Forsyth said. "They are addicted to it."
Laboratory tests showed that alcohol activated both these and other biochemicals characteristic of the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. Tests also demonstrated that the alcohol-treated cells had lost their tight junctions with adjacent cells, a preparation for migrating, as metastatic cells do.
In addition, Forsyth and his colleagues found that the same roster of biomarkers was activated in normal intestinal cells treated with alcohol, suggesting that alcohol not only worsens the profile of existing cancer cells but also may initiate cancer by stimulating the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition.
Other researchers at Rush involved in the study were Yueming Tang, PhD, Maliha Shaikh, MS, Dr. Lijuan Zhang and Dr. Ali Keshavarzian. Research support was provided in part by the National Institutes of Health.
Rush University Medical Center includes a 674-bed (staffed) hospital; the Johnston R. Bowman Health Center; and Rush University (Rush Medical College, College of Nursing, College of Health Sciences and the Graduate College).
Rush is currently constructing a 14-floor, 806,000-square-foot hospital building at the corner of Ashland Avenue and Congress Parkway. The new hospital, scheduled to open in 2012, is the centerpiece of a $1-billion, 10-year campus redevelopment plan called the Rush Transformation, which also includes a new orthopedics building (to open in Fall 2009), a new parking garage and central power plant completed in June 2009, renovations of selected existing buildings and demolition of obsolete buildings. The new hospital is being designed and built to conserve energy and water, reduce waste and use sustainable building materials. Rush is seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. It will be the first full-service "green" hospital in Chicago.
Rush's mission is to provide the best possible care for our patients. Educating tomorrow's health care professional, researching new and more advanced treatment options, transforming our facilities and investing in new technologies—all are undertaken with the drive to improve patient care now, and for the future.
Sharon Butler | EurekAlert!
Norovirus evades immune system by hiding out in rare gut cells
12.10.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Flexible sensors can detect movement in GI tract
11.10.2017 | Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences