DEC 08, 2020 12:28 PM PST

Stress hormones interrupt tumor cells' hibernation

A new study published in Science Translational Medicine suggests that the hormones released from stress could “reawaken” dormant cancer cells from their hibernation. The finding provides insight on one mechanism that contributes to why cancer returns after patients are in recession.

Why cancers return is a question that plagues both physicians and patients alike. The recurrence of tumors is considered one of the most significant causes of death in cancer patients, though scientists still don’t fully understand the mechanisms that trigger a recurrence.

The study was conducted in mice models and used data from 80 patients with lung cancer. Led by Michela Perego and colleagues, the team of researchers looked at how mice in stressful situations release increased levels of stress hormones like norepinephrine. This in turn triggers immune cells called neutrophils to release S100A8/A9 proteins and fatty molecules that ultimately resulted in lung and ovarian tumor cells to emerge from their long sleep.

This discovery opens up a new pathway for drug development and extended cancer treatment. If a drug can target and inhibit certain stress hormones, it may be able to keep tumor cells in a dormant state.

Beta-blockers are a class of drugs known for their properties of targeting stress hormones. To try out this idea, the researchers gave stressed mice an experimental beta-blocker and showed that their tumor cells stayed dormant. They observed similar results in humans with lung cancer, showing that patients with higher concentrations of S100A8/A9 were more likely to have experienced recurrence 33 months after surgery.

Photo: Pexels

Perego’s team says that their research provides evidence that beta-blockers or similar drugs that target S100A8/A9 proteins should be analyzed to see if they could serve as potential therapies to prevent a recurrence.  

Sources: Science Translational Medicine, Eureka Alert

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JAN 20, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Mutations in One Gene Can Lead to Cancer in Different Ways
JAN 20, 2021
Mutations in One Gene Can Lead to Cancer in Different Ways
Cancer and genetics are linked; for example, when a cell's genome accumulates mutations it can begin to divide uncon ...
FEB 12, 2021
Cancer
A behavioral science approach to FIT kits
FEB 12, 2021
A behavioral science approach to FIT kits
Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have a new strategy to promoting colo ...
FEB 14, 2021
Cancer
Your daily commute exposes you to these two carcinogens
FEB 14, 2021
Your daily commute exposes you to these two carcinogens
New research from UC Riverside reports alarming findings on the risks of exposure to carcinogenic chemicals from time sp ...
MAR 23, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
AI Test Distinguishes Cancer Cells From Healthy Ones Based on Acidity Levels
MAR 23, 2021
AI Test Distinguishes Cancer Cells From Healthy Ones Based on Acidity Levels
Researchers have developed a new way of differentiating cancer cells from healthy ones—by how acidic they are. The ...
MAR 29, 2021
Cancer
Modeling metastasis
MAR 29, 2021
Modeling metastasis
Novel research published in Genome Biology investigates the cellular mechanisms at work during cancer metastasis using n ...
APR 14, 2021
Cancer
Cell Viability- Where to Begin?
APR 14, 2021
Cell Viability- Where to Begin?
Written By: Author As I pondered the title of this article, my thoughts immediately went back to a request by my Ph.D. a ...
Loading Comments...