Lately, researchers at The Wistar Institute explained a new mechanism by which astrocytes—which are the most profuse supporting cells in the brain—also advance metastasis and cancer cell growth in the brain. As per a study, astrocytes offer fatty acids that trigger the PPAR-gamma pathway in cancer cells, increasing their proliferation. The study was published in the journal Cancer Discovery. The brain metastasis stays a major contributor to general cancer mortality in patients having an advanced-stage disease, particularly the breast, lung, kidney and colon carcinoma, and melanoma. The existing treatment strategies have shown partial efficacy, highlighting the need to expand knowledge of the brain metastasis mechanisms to discover innovative therapeutic targets.
Qing Chen—Senior Author of the study—stated, “We know that cancer cells take benefit of the interface with local cells, especially astrocytes, to proliferate and survive in the brain environment. We aimed to understand the character of this interface and what precisely astrocytes supply to support metastatic growth.” Chen along with her collaborators focused on clinically pertinent mouse prototypes of melanoma brain metastasis and revealed that astrocytes advanced cancer cell proliferation. By studying the molecular mechanisms of this interface, they discover that the PPAR-gamma (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma) pathway is triggered in cancer cells that hold increased ability to create brain metastasis, and it is even more dynamic when these cells are co-produced with astrocytes.
On a similar note, recently, a study showed that obstructing the inflammatory pathway is a key to inhibiting brain metastasis from melanoma. Brain metastases are amongst the fatal tumor metastases, with an average survival span of less than 1 Year, and the occurrence of brain metastasis is increasing. The latest study from TAU (Tel Aviv University) discovered that melanoma brain metastasis arises when tumor cells “takeover” an inflammatory pathway in the brain. And inhibiting this pathway can help in preventing these metastases from progression, according to the research.