The study showed that an increase in norepinephrine, a stress hormone, can stimulate tumor cells to produce two compounds. These compounds can break down the tissue around the tumor cells and allow the cells to more easily move into the bloodstream. From there, they can travel to another location in the body to form additional tumors, a process called metastasis.
The research also suggests the same hormone can also stimulate the tumor cells to release another compound that can aid in the growth of new blood vessels that feed cancer cells, hastening the growth and spread of the disease. The work was reported in the latest issue of the journal Cancer Research.
“This opens up an entirely new way of looking at stress and cancer that's different from current interpretations,” explained Ronald Glaser, a professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics, and director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State University .
Glaser and Eric Yang, a research scientist in the same institute, focused on the role of these three compounds. Two of them, both matrix metalloproteinases -- MMP-2 and MMP-9 -- play a role in breaking down the scaffolding that cells attach to in order to maintain their shape. The third compound, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), is important in the growth of new blood vessels into tumor cells.
Earlier work by researcher Anil Sood at the University of Texas had shown that the same stress hormones can stimulate ovarian tumor cells to produce these three compounds. The key to that discovery was that the two stress hormones – epinephrine and norepinephrine – would bind to places on the surface of ovarian cancer cells, called adrenergic receptors, and stimulate the release of MMP-2, MMP-9 and VEGF which might then foster cancer growth.
The Ohio State team wanted to see if the same occurred with other cancer cells.
They turned to cell lines Glaser had developed decades ago to study nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), a serious, incurable head and neck cancer that occurs most frequently among people of Chinese descent.
They treated Glaser's cell line with norepinephrine and, as predicted, the cells all produced MMP-2, MMP-9 and VEGF. This showed that the receptors for this hormone were present on cells in Glaser's cell line, but that might have been just a laboratory aberration in the tissue cultures.
“We needed to see how relevant this finding was to what happened with actual tumors,” he said. Glaser asked colleagues for samples of actual NPC tumors to look for the presence of similar receptors. They studied tumor samples which included different types of NPC tumors. All had the sought-after receptors.
“From this we can say that there is likelihood that all NPC tumors will have these receptors as well,” he said.
“MMP-2 and MMP-9 contribute to the aggressiveness of these tumors,” Yang said. “It isn't clear exactly how they are operating but they may work with VEGF to facilitate blood vessel growth in new tumors so that they can grow.”
The target adrenergic receptors for these hormones are well-known to clinicians dealing with high-blood-pressure patients. Typically, such patients are given a class of drugs known as beta-blockers which lead to a lowering of blood pressure levels.
Glaser and Yang wanted to see how these same drugs affected these tumor cells. They added propanol, a beta-blocker, to the tumor cells and then exposed them to both norepinepherine and epinephrine. With the drug present, the levels of MMP-2, MMP-9 and VEGF didn't increase.
“This suggests a new approach to possibly fight some cancers – the prescribing of beta-blocker-type drugs that would block these receptors and perhaps slow the progression of the disease,” Glaser said.
“Using this approach may not cure this cancer but perhaps we could slow down its growth, making the tumor more sensitive to anti-cancer therapy, and therefore extending the patient's lifespan and improve their quality of life.”
Working along with Yang and Glaser were Min Chen, Tim Eubank, Clay Marsh, Scott Jewell, Nicholas Flavahan, Carl Morrison, Peir-En Yeh and Stanley Lemeshow, all of Ohio State, and Anil Sood and Yang Li, both of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas.
Support for this research came from the National Cancer Institute, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the Gilbert and Kathryn Mitchell Endowment and the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Ronald Glaser | EurekAlert!
Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator
23.02.2018 | University of Turku
Minimising risks of transplants
22.02.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.
In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...
A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy