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Nerves and Growth of Prostate Cancer

November 6th, 2017

Nerves and Growth of Prostate Cancer

Nerves and Growth of Prostate Cancer

Did you know that certain nerves can also play a role in the growth of prostate cancer?
According to a new research, certain nerves plays a vital role in the process of carcinogenesis by triggering the formation of new blood vessels that can in turn support the growing cancer mass in the prostate gland.
The study conducted by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine can potentially help scientists in developing new treatment strategies to treat prostate cancer. The results of this remarkable study were published in the peer-reviewed journal Science.

Details of the Study:

It is already known that tumor growth and expansion involve a massive increase in the production of abnormal cancerous cells. However, in order to thrive and invade surrounding normal tissues, tumor mass requires ample supply of blood and nourishment. This is accomplished by production of new blood vessels. The research conducted by Dr. Paul Frenette and his team at Albert Einstein College of Medicine suggested that nerves stimulate and trigger the formation of blood vessels.
This also implies that inhibiting the vascular growth by controlling the nerve activity can also play a role in controlling tumor progression.

Role of Epinephrine:

The research team discovered that nerves that primarily stimulates the growth of blood vessels for tumor growth are sympathetic nerves that secrete epinephrine – the hormone responsible for fight and flight response. Studies conducted on mice model suggested that epinephrine binds to the connective tissue cells that are present on the surface of tumor mass. Once epinephrine binds to the surface receptors, it triggers the metabolic switch that is responsible for the production of new blood vessels.
These metabolic changes are also linked to changes in the glucose metabolism – from oxidative phosphorylation to glucose glycolysis; a process that is only utilized by tumor cells for the generation of energy.
In simple words, nerve involvement does not only induce the production of new blood vessels to support the growing tumor mass but also ensure that normal cells starve for nutrition due to metabolic changes in the glucose metabolism.

Opportunity to explore new treatment avenues:

This study has opened new avenues to address prostate malignancy. For example, besides controlling triggers that induces the production of new blood vessels, research by Dr. Paul Frenette have also highlighted how beta blockers can play a role in the management of prostate cancer. Beta blockers (popular class of anti-hypertensive agent) exerts its action by inhibiting the activity of epinephrine. Investigators believe that effectively controlling epinephrine activity would decrease the rate of cancer metastasis, and overall patient survival rate.

  1. Zahalka, A. H., Arnal-Estapé, A., Maryanovich, M., Nakahara, F., Cruz, C. D., Finley, L. W., & Frenette, P. S. (2017). Adrenergic nerves activate an angio-metabolic switch in prostate cancer. Science, 358(6361), 321-326.
  2. Braadland, P. R., Ramberg, H. A., Grytli, H. H., & Taskén, K. A. (2015). β-adrenergic receptor signaling in prostate cancer. Frontiers in oncology, 4, 375.

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