"This interdisciplinary research illustrates that the social environment, and a social animal's response to that environment, can indeed alter the level of gene expression in a wide variety of tissues, not only the brain," said Suzanne D. Conzen, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and senior author of the study, to be published on September 30, 2009, in Cancer Prevention Research. "This is a novel finding and may begin to explain how the environment affects human susceptibility to other chronic diseases such as central obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, etc."
The research began six years ago when cancer specialist Conzen joined forces with biobehavioral psychologist Martha McClintock, PhD, professor of psychology and founder of the Institute for Mind and Biology at the University of Chicago, who has long been interested in the result of social isolation in aging, to study behavior and cancer in a mouse model.
The University of Chicago scientists took mice that were genetically predisposed to develop mammary gland (breast) cancer and raised them in two environments: in groups of mice and isolated. After the same amount of time, the isolated mice grew larger mammary gland tumors. They were also found to have developed a disrupted stress hormone response.
"I doubted there would be a difference in the growth of the tumors in such a strong model of genetically inherited cancer simply based on chronic stress in their environments, so I was surprised to see a clear, measurable difference both in mammary gland tumor growth and interestingly in accompanying behavior and stress hormone levels," Conzen said.
The researchers then turned their attention to how the chronic social environment affected the biology of cancer growth. In other words, they sought to discover the precise molecular consequences of the stressful environment.
To do this, they studied gene expression in the mouse mammary tissue over time. Conzen and her colleagues found altered expression levels of metabolic pathway genes (which are expected to favor increased tumor growth) in the isolated mice. This was the case even before tumor size differences were measurable.
These altered gene expression patterns suggest potential molecular biomarkers and/or targets for preventive intervention in human breast cancer.
"Given the increased knowledge of the human genome, we can begin to identify and analyze the specific alterations that take place in caner-prone tissues of individuals living in at-risk environments," Conzen said. "That will help us to better understand and implement cancer prevention strategies."
These findings do suggest novel targets for chemoprevention, according to Caryn Lerman, PhD, Scientific Director of the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and Deputy Editor of Cancer Prevention Research. "Future studies should evaluate whether these molecular processes can be reversed by chemopreventive agents."
The findings also support previous epidemiologic studies suggesting that social isolation increases the mortality of chronic diseases, as well as clinical studies revealing that social support improves the outcomes of cancer patients.
Greg Borzo | EurekAlert!
Observing the cell's protein factories during self-assembly
15.06.2018 | Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Scientists unravel molecular mechanisms of Parkinson's disease
13.06.2018 | The Francis Crick Institute
Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.
Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...
The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.
Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.
An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.
Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...
Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...
Water molecules exist in two different forms with almost identical physical properties. For the first time, researchers have succeeded in separating the two forms to show that they can exhibit different chemical reactivities. These results were reported by researchers from the University of Basel and their colleagues in Hamburg in the scientific journal Nature Communications.
From a chemical perspective, water is a molecule in which a single oxygen atom is linked to two hydrogen atoms. It is less well known that water exists in two...
13.06.2018 | Event News
08.06.2018 | Event News
05.06.2018 | Event News
15.06.2018 | Materials Sciences
15.06.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
15.06.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering