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One Reason for Cachexia in Patients with Malignant Tumors

2015-04-15

Two independent researchers have reported discovering that at least some malignant tumors secrete a protein which induces insulin resistance in other tissues unaffected by the tumor.  This protein, known as IMPL-2, prevents normal cells from responding to insulin and imbibing glucose, which leads to wasting away of the normal tissues.  The tumor itself overexpresses genes for the glycolytic enzyme pathway and the insulin/insulin-like growth factor pathways, rendering the malignant cells resistant to the effects of the secreted protein.

This phenomenon probably evolved in malignant cells to rob the rest of the body of the glucose it needs to function, allowing the malignant cells to monopolize the body’s energy production.  In this way, the malignancy can continue to grow while the rest of the body wastes away.  In a similar fashion, malignant cells are also known to secrete proteins that attract the formation of new blood vessels to feed the tumor.

The two reports are available in abstract form without charge at: http://www.cell.com/developmental-cell/abstract/S1534-5807(15)00114-8 and http://www.cell.com/developmental-cell/abstract/S1534-5807(15)00143-4 both in the journal of “Developmental Cell”  (or cell development.)

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