Nav: Home

Lung cancer triggers pulmonary hypertension

November 22, 2017

Shortness of breath and respiratory distress often increase the suffering of advanced-stage lung cancer patients. These symptoms can be triggered by pulmonary hypertension, as scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim and the German Center for Lung Research found after examining more than 500 patients. The pulmonary hypertension observed is possibly due to immune and inflammatory processes triggered by cancer cells. Treatment could focus on this mechanism.

Lung cancer has long since taken on the character of an epidemic: the disease is already responsible for more than a quarter of all cancer deaths, and the trend is rising. One reason for this is that the prognosis is poor: only one-fifth of patients are still alive five years after diagnosis. This is partly due to the fact that lung cancer is often not recognized until it is in an advanced stage. Another problem is that a variety of different lung cancers exist, each of which requires its own therapeutic concept. This, in turn, requires a better understanding of the disease.

Doctors have noted that many patients with progressive lung cancer develop shortness of breath and respiratory distress. The same symptoms also occur in diseases such as pulmonary arterial hypertension. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research together with colleagues from the German Center for Lung Research therefore measured the diameter of the pulmonary artery of about 500 lung cancer patients using computer tomography. "We found thickening of the walls of the pulmonary artery in more than half the patients. This is a clear indication that these patients also suffer from pulmonary hypertension," says Rajkumar Savai, who headed the study.

To identify the causes, the lung researchers analyzed three different forms of lung cancer in mice. "These were tumour types that grow at different rates and can be experimentally induced in the lungs of mice. All three mouse models showed signs of pulmonary hypertension as tumour growth progressed," says Soni Pullamsetti, the study's lead author.

Inflammation in blood vessels could act as trigger

But why does lung cancer often lead to pulmonary hypertension? "Neither in the patients nor in the mouse models were we able to detect any clots or cancer cells - both conceivable triggers - migrating into the vessel wall," explains Savai. However, the researchers did find that blood vessels located near tumours were infiltrated by a large number of immune cells.

Further experiments showed that the immune cells release various chemical messengers, as is generally observed in inflammatory reactions. Conversely, pulmonary hypertension did not occur when the mice in the experiment lacked functioning immune cells. For the Bad Nauheim-based scientists, this is an indication that inflammatory processes triggered by lung cancer may be responsible for pulmonary hypertension.

Werner Seeger, Director at the Max Planck Institute and Director of the Medical Unit at Giessen-Marburg University Hospital, hopes the team's findings will lead to approaches for developing a treatment. "Previously unknown abnormalities in blood vessels, triggered by inflammatory processes in lung tumours, could be the underlying cause of the symptoms observed in patients." New therapeutic approaches could start here."
-end-
Original Publication

S. Pullamsetti, B. Kojonazarov, S. Storn, H. Gall, Y. Salazar, J. Wolf, A. Weigert, N. El-Nikhely, A. Ghofrani, G. Krombach, L. Fink, S. Gattenlöhner, U. Rapp, R. Schermuly, F. Grimminger, W. Seeger, R. Savai
Lung cancer-associated pulmonary hypertension: role of microenvironmental inflammation based on tumor cell-immune cell crosstalk.
Sci. Transl. Med. 9, eaai9048 (2017); 15 November, 2017

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

Related Lung Cancer Articles:

Lung cancer therapy may improve outcomes of metastatic brain cancer
A medication commonly used to treat non-small cell lung cancer that has spread, or metastasized, may have benefits for patients with metastatic brain cancers, suggests a new review and analysis led by researchers at St.
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.
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.
Lung transplant patients face elevated lung cancer risk
In an American Journal of Transplantation study, lung cancer risk was increased after lung transplantation, especially in the native (non-transplanted) lung of single lung transplant recipients.
Proposed cancer treatment may boost lung cancer stem cells, study warns
Epigenetic therapies -- targeting enzymes that alter what genes are turned on or off in a cell -- are of growing interest in the cancer field as a way of making a cancer less aggressive or less malignant.
Are you at risk for lung cancer?
This question isn't only for people who've smoked a lot.
Better equipped in the fight against lung cancer
Lung cancer is the third most common type of cancer in Germany and the disease affects both men and women.
New liquid biopsy-based cancer model reveals data on deadly lung cancer
Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) accounts for 14 percent of all lung cancers and is often rapidly resistant to chemotherapy resulting in poor clinical outcomes.
Cancer drug leads to 'drastic decrease' in HIV infection in lung cancer patient
Doctors in France have found the first evidence that a cancer drug may be able to eradicate HIV-infected cells in humans.
Air pollution is associated with cancer mortality beyond lung cancer
A large scale epidemiological study associates some air pollutants with kidney, bladder and colorectal cancer death.
More Lung Cancer News and Lung 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

Our Relationship With Water
We need water to live. But with rising seas and so many lacking clean water – water is in crisis and so are we. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around restoring our relationship with water. Guests on the show include legal scholar Kelsey Leonard, artist LaToya Ruby Frazier, and community organizer Colette Pichon Battle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#569 Facing Fear
What do you fear? I mean really fear? Well, ok, maybe right now that's tough. We're living in a new age and definition of fear. But what do we do about it? Eva Holland has faced her fears, including trauma and phobia. She lived to tell the tale and write a book: "Nerve: Adventures in the Science of Fear".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Uncounted
First things first: our very own Latif Nasser has an exciting new show on Netflix. He talks to Jad about the hidden forces of the world that connect us all. Then, with an eye on the upcoming election, we take a look back: at two pieces from More Perfect Season 3 about Constitutional amendments that determine who gets to vote. Former Radiolab producer Julia Longoria takes us to Washington, D.C. The capital is at the heart of our democracy, but it's not a state, and it wasn't until the 23rd Amendment that its people got the right to vote for president. But that still left DC without full representation in Congress; D.C. sends a "non-voting delegate" to the House. Julia profiles that delegate, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and her unique approach to fighting for power in a virtually powerless role. Second, Radiolab producer Sarah Qari looks at a current fight to lower the US voting age to 16 that harkens back to the fight for the 26th Amendment in the 1960s. Eighteen-year-olds at the time argued that if they were old enough to be drafted to fight in the War, they were old enough to have a voice in our democracy. But what about today, when even younger Americans are finding themselves at the center of national political debates? Does it mean we should lower the voting age even further? This episode was reported and produced by Julia Longoria and Sarah Qari. Check out Latif Nasser's new Netflix show Connected here. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.