Could here be a direct connection between metabolism and cancer? Researchers in Texas and Austria seem to think there is.
The team, which included members of the University of Texas Health Science Center departments of medicine and biochemistry, investigators from the UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and a group of collaborators from Austria, has discovered information that directly links disrupted metabolism (energy production in cells) to a common and often fatal type of lymphoma. The group announced its findings in Nature Communications, as reported in Science Daily (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150717142435.htm).
According to Medical News Today, lymphoma, a form of cancer that affects the immune system, can occur at any age. It is the most common cancer in young people. Lymphoma is a cancer of immune cells called lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. There are two broad types of lymphoma -- Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's -- and many subtypes. Lymphoma is often very treatable, and most people live for a long time after being diagnosed
"The link between metabolism and cancer has been proposed or inferred to exist for a long time, but what is more scarce is evidence for a direct connection -- genetic mutations in metabolic enzymes," explains senior author Ricardo C.T. Aguiar, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of hematology-oncology in the School of Medicine and a faculty scientist with the Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at the UT Health Science Center and the South Texas Veterans Health Care System, Audie L. Murphy Division. "We have discovered a metabolic imbalance that is oncogenic or pro-cancer."
The team discovered that the gene that codes the enzyme D2-hydroxyglutarate dehydrogenase (D2HGDH) is "mutated in a subset of cancers called diffuse large B-cell lymphomas," the Science Daily article says. "The mutated lymphoma cell displays a deficiency of a metabolite called alpha-ketoglutarate (?-KG), which is needed in steady levels for cells to be healthy."
According to Dr. Aguiar, "When the levels of ?-KG are abnormally low, another class of enzymes called dioxygenases don't function properly, resulting in a host of additional disturbances. Because ?-KG has been recently identified as a critical regulator of aging and stem cell maintenance, the implications of our findings are broad and not limited to cancer biology."