Nav: Home

Metastatic cancer gorges on fructose in the liver

April 26, 2018

DURHAM, N.C. -- Biomedical engineers at Duke University have demonstrated that metastatic cancer cells can reprogram their metabolism to thrive in new organs. Specifically, the research shows that cells originating from colorectal cancer change their dietary habits to capitalize on the high levels of fructose often found in the liver.

The finding offers both general and specific insights into new ways of fighting metastatic cancer. It appears April 26 in the journal Cell Metabolism.

Cancer becomes much more deadly once it spreads to different parts of the body, yet treatments don't take their location into account.

"Genetically speaking, colon cancer is colon cancer no matter where it goes," explained Xiling Shen, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Duke. "But that doesn't mean that it can't respond to a new environment. We had a hunch that such a response might not be genetic, but metabolic in nature."

In the study, Shen and his colleagues found that certain metabolic genes became more active in liver metastases than they were in the original primary tumor or lung metastases. One group of metabolic genes stood out in particular, those involved in the metabolism of fructose. This struck the researchers because many Western diets are rich in fructose, which is found in corn syrup and all types of processed foods.

"When cancer cells get to the liver, they're like a kid in a candy store," said Shen. "They use this ample new energy supply to create building blocks for growing more cancer cells."

To feed on fructose, cancer cells need to produce more of an enzyme that breaks down fructose, called ALDOB, a trick they can quickly learn from the liver itself. Once the cancer cells figure out how to rewire themselves to gorge on the fructose, they proliferate out of control and become unstoppable.

Besides providing an insight into how cancers thrive after metastasizing, this discovery can lead to new therapies specifically targeting metastatic cells. For example, Shen says that avoiding fructose by eating natural, non-processed foods and providing drugs that block fructose metabolism could potentially halt the growth of cancer that has spread to the liver from other organs. And because new drugs targeting fructose metabolism have recently been developed by pharmaceutical companies to treat metabolic diseases, such crossover treatments may not be far away.

"Doctors can usually cut the primary tumor out," said Shen. "What we need is a way to stop cancers from growing in new locations, and understanding how cancer cells adapt to their new home may add new weapons to our arsenal."
-end-
This work was supported by (institution?) R21CA201963, the National Institutes of Health (R35GM122465, U01 CA214300) and the National Science Foundation (1511357, 1350659).

CITATION: "Aldolase B-Mediated Fructose Metabolism Drives Metabolic Reprogramming of Colon Cancer Liver Metastasis." Pengcheng Bu, Kai-Yuan Chen, Kun Xiang, Christelle Johnson, Scott B Crown, Nikolai Rakhilin, Yiwei Ai, Lihua Wang, Rui Xi, Inna Astapova, Yan Han, Jiahe Li, Bradley B Barth, Min Lu, Ziyang Gao, Liwen Zhang, Mark Herman, David Hsu, Guo-Fang Zhang, Xiling Shen. Cell Metabolism, 2018. DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2018.04.003

Duke University

Related Cancer Articles:

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.
Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.
Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.
More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.
New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.
American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.
Oncotarget: Cancer pioneer employs physics to approach cancer in last research article
In the cover article of Tuesday's issue of Oncotarget, James Frost, MD, PhD, Kenneth Pienta, MD, and the late Donald Coffey, Ph.D., use a theory of physical and biophysical symmetry to derive a new conceptualization of cancer.
More Cancer News and Cancer Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Warped Reality
False information on the internet makes it harder and harder to know what's true, and the consequences have been devastating. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around technology and deception. Guests include law professor Danielle Citron, journalist Andrew Marantz, and computer scientist Joy Buolamwini.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.