Blood protein EPO involved in origin and spread of cancer

Researchers at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet have demonstrated that a growth hormone, PDGF-BB, and the blood protein EPO are involved in the development of cancer tumours and that they combine to help the tumours proliferate in the body. These new preclinical findings offer new potential for inhibiting tumour growth and bypassing problems of resistance that exist with many drugs in current use. The results are published in the scientific journal Nature Medicine.

Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, and is one of the most important research fields in the treatment of such diverse conditions as cancer, metastases, obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and . The process is also important in healthy individuals for wound healing, the menstrual cycle and other normal processes. Professor Yihai Cao and his team are researching into angiogenesis and its links to cancer and other diseases, and in the present study show the significant role played by a growth factor, PDGF-BB.

"It's a member of the PDGF family and significantly contributes to , which is one of the characteristic signs of cancer, says Professor Yihai Cao. Our preclinical findings suggest that PDGF-BB causes systemic effects in the body, which is to say that rather than being active locally it goes into the blood and interferes with the function of several organs so that the entire body is affected."

Their studies are carried out on mice, and in the present study they were able to show that when the growth factor PDGF-BB binds to its receptors, it stimulates the EPO (Erythropoietin), which, in turn, controls the production of , that provide more oxygen for and metastasis.

"EPO has several functions," says Professor Yihai Cao. "It produces more blood and stimulates angiogenesis, and we have revealed the underlying mechanism. It also stimulates tumour by directly stimulating the proliferation, migration and growth of endothelial cells and their ability to form the so-called epithelial tube. PDGF-BB promotes the stimulation of extramedullary haematopoiesis, enlargement of the liver and spleen, which increases oxygen perfusion and protection against anaemia." The introduction of PDGF-BB in mice thus boosts erythropoietin production and the haematopoietic parameters. In addition, EPO may directly act on tumor cells to promote their growth and metastasis.

"We believe that the increase in EPO might be responsible for tumoural resistance to anti-angiogenetic drugs, which only target PDGF ligands. The combination of drugs targeted at both PDGF and EPO has potential superior therapeutic benefits and might circumvent today's serious resistance problems," says Professor Yihai Cao, adding that they will continue to study mouse models and explore opportunities for clinical studies on patients.

More information: "PDGF-BB modulates hematopoiesis and tumor angiogenesis by inducing erythropoietin production in stromal cells", Yuan Xue, Sharon Lim, Yunlong Yang, Zongwei Wang, Lasse Dahl Ejby Jensen, Eva–Maria Hedlund, Patrik Andersson, Masakiyo Sasahara, Ola Larsson, Dagmar Galter, Renhai Cao, Kayoko Hosaka & Yihai Cao, Nature Medicine AOP 4 December 2011.

Related Stories

A new way to boost red blood cell numbers

Jan 10, 2008

A common treatment for anemia — a deficiency in red blood cells (rbcs) caused by their insufficient production, excessive destruction, or excessive loss — is administration of recombinant erythropoietin (Epo), a hormone ...

Anemia drugs under scrutiny

Mar 13, 2008

U.S. drug regulators are contemplating further restrictions on the use of drugs to combat anemia in cancer patients.

Control of blood vessels a possible weapon against obesity

Jan 07, 2009

Mice exposed to low temperatures develop more blood vessels in their adipose tissue and metabolise body fat more quickly, according to a new study from Karolinska Institutet. Scientists now hope to learn how to control blood ...

Recommended for you

Better classification to improve treatments for breast cancer

7 hours ago

Breast cancer can be classified into ten different subtypes, and scientists have developed a tool to identify which is which. The research, published in the journal Genome Biology, could improve treatments and targeting of tre ...

Risk of diabetes up in hodgkin's lymphoma survivors

9 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Para-aortic radiation correlates with increased diabetes mellitus (DM) risk for Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL) survivors, according to a study published online Aug. 25 in the Journal of Clinical On ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Nanobanano
1 / 5 (1) Dec 05, 2011
Now think of all those atheletes and pro wrestlers shooting themselves up with EPO.

Anyone else seeing a cancer epidemic looming on the horizons for all the "health and fitness" guru crowd?