Science | Research
Research by the CIC bioGune and the Josep Carreras Institute reveals that the adipose tissue that feeds the blood vessels reproduces in the same way as cancer cells
A scientific group made up of Basque and Catalan researchers has discovered that the veins and arteries that supply the body with fat favor the onset and development of obesity. The research, signed by the CIC bioGune center in Zamudio and the Josep Carreras Leukemia Institute, is still at a basic level, but the finding is “surprising”, as explained to EL CORREO by the head of Research in Signaling and Metabolism of the Cancer, Arkaitz Carracedo, who has participated in the study. The knowledge acquired could allow the development of drugs to control excess weight in the future.
Obesity, a disease with hints of a pandemic, is one of the main causes of the pathologies that kill the most in Western countries, which are cardiovascular and cancerous. Its origin, as is known, lies in the exaggerated development of adipose tissue. Based on this certainty, Carracedo’s team and the Josep Carreras Endothelial Pathobiology Research Group, led by researcher Mariona Graupera, began working together to find out how blood vessels contribute to the onset of overweight. “To understand obesity, we had to resort to the knowledge we already had about cancer,” explains Carracedo graphically.
Years of research have led to the conclusion that blood vessels give orders to adipose tissue – to fat – through a substance that in science is called metabolites. In response to this action, the fat releases its own metabolites (in this case they are called adipocytes), which the veins and arteries capture as food to nourish themselves, grow and develop.
The reproduction process is, consequently, identical to that which occurs in certain tumor cells. “It is paradoxical that the mechanism by which the metabolites are produced is identical to the one we recently described in the context of prostate cancer”, values the Basque researcher. The difference, according to Graupera, is that the proliferation process in the case of blood vessels is controlled, while tumor cells do so in an “uncontrolled and aberrant” way.
The work, published today in the journal ‘Nature Metabolism’ breaks with the traditional idea about the role of blood vessels in the regulation of health and disease. “Historically they were seen as inert tubes whose only function was to transport blood, but over time we are discovering new functions for them,” explains Carracedo. “Now we know that they perceive alterations in our body and that they respond by regulating and organizing the function of multiple tissues.”
The research has had the close collaboration of experts from the Center for Research in Molecular Medicine and Chronic Diseases (CiMUS) in Santiago de Compostela, the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (Idibaps) in Barcelona and the Rockefeller University in New York.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.