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Researchers discover why ovarian cancer disseminates

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Researchers discover why ovarian cancer disseminates

According to an article published in the American Journal of Pathology, a factor favoring the dissemination and proliferation of ovarian cancer cells is adipose tissue in the abdomen. Researchers at the University of Chicago have conducted several experiments to better understand why ovarian cancer cells disseminate into the abdominal cavity. The results showed that there is actually a two-step model of omental colonization involving on the one hand the attraction of cancer cells in structures containing immune cells and on the other hand adipose tissue promotes the growth and dissemination of cancer cells.

Omentum is a fat tissue that covers peritoneal organs in the abdominal cavity and is composed of several types of cells: fat cells, blood vessels, immune cells, connective tissue and some structures that contain some distinct immune cells called milky spots. The study led by researchers at the University of Chicago is not the first of this kind; previous studies  have suggested that the milky spots of the abdominal cavity attract ovarian cancer cells. Carrie Rinker-Schaeffer, PhD, a professor in the Departments of Surgery (Section of Urology) and Obstetrics and Gynecology at The University of Chicago, said that their study provides a fully integrated model of the relationship between the components of omental tissue and ovarian cancer cells.

 ovarian cancer

Cancer Cells

In the first experiment conducted on laboratory animals, the investigators wanted to see if ovarian cancer cells are more attracted to tissue fat containing milky spots than to tissue that do not contain these structures. They took into account the fact that, in rats, there is a second source of milky spots, namely splenoportal fat. In these way, they discovered that many cancer cell lines and colonize omental and splenoportal fat. In the fat that does not contain these milky spots, there were rarely found ovarian cancer cells.

It seems that omental tissue secretes several factors that attract ovarian cancer cells. The study also showed that those tissues that contain milky spots promotes the growth and dissemination of cancer cells. The colonization of milky spots by ovarian cancer cells is not affected by different immunodeficiencies such as deficit of T cells, B cells and NK (natural killer cells). What is to note is  that between ovarian cancer cells and depletion of adipocytes  there is an inverse relationship. Dr. Rinker-Schaeffer said that their study confirms other research that showed that ovarian cancer cells use lipids stored in adipocytes as a source of energy for growth.