Fat in obese people "clogs" cancer fighting cells

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Research published in Nature (12.Nov.2018) indicates that the fat in adipose tissue of obese subjects has a negative effect on tumor killer cells, it clogs their metabolism and this does not allow them to find and destroy cancer cells.

Fat, obesity and cancer

The link between cancer and obesity is well known, and almost half de cases of certain types of cancer are due to this reason, (including kidney, breast, liver and pancreatic cancers).

There are many possible mechanisms by which fatty tissue can cause cancer, such as: excessive production of hormones, insulin, and adipokines (which are hormones and cytokines that depending on the situation can provoke or reduce inflammation) by the adipose tissue.

The body keeps tumors under control by detecting the rogue cells at an early stage of development and its the body's immune cells seek tumors and kill them (natural killer cells or NK and CD+ T cells).

A paper published in Nature (Michelet et. al., 2018) ( 1 ) reports that fatty tissue "gums up" this immune reaction and impairs the cancer-killing effect of these immune cells.

The NK cells are the body's first line of defense against cancer celles. They detect tumor cells and kill them by secreting toxic products such as perforin and granzymes.

In obese subjects, the fatty environment with abundant lipid accumulation, interferes with the NK cells' metabolism. In other words, the fat in obese people's tissue halts the energy production inside NK cells which blocks their anti-tumoral activity.

The authors describe this effect as follows: "obesity induces robust ... lipid accumulation in NK cells, causing complete 'paralysis' of their cellular metabolism and trafficking. ... This prevented trafficking of the cytotoxic machinery to the NK cell-tumor synapse", in other words the cytotoxic (which means the cell killing chemicals produced by the NK cells) products can't reach the tumor because fat accumulates inside the NK cells.

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Cite this article:

. ©2018. Fat in obese subjects gums up anti-tumoral activity of immune killer cells. Patagonia Wellness, 14 Nov. 2018. http://www.patagoniawellness.com/health/fat-clogged-tissue-cant-fight-cancer-Nov-12-2018.html

Tags: fat, cancer, tumors, obesity, immune system

Subject: News Article: fatty tissue clogs the tumor cell killer activities of the body's immune system


References and Further Reading

(1) Michelet X, et al., (2018). Metabolic reprogramming of natural killer cells in obesity limits antitumor responses. Nat Immunol. 2018 Nov 12. doi: 10.1038/s41590-018-0251-7