The parasympathetic nervous system stimulates the propagation of cancer cells to the surrounding tissues at the metastatic stage of prostate gland cancer, according to a new study.
Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine attempted to examine the role of nerves in cancer that are commonly found around the tumors. Dr.Paul Frenette and his colleagues in their previous research found that the sympathetic nervous system direct the stem cells in the bone marrow in red blood cell development. Based on these findings, researchers suspected the involvement of sympathetic nervous system in triggering the stem cells leading to the progression of the disease.
In order to confirm their hypothesis, researchers used an animal model. They injected human prostate cancerous cells into mice. To observe the effect of nerves on the cancer cells, scientists disabled the autonomic nervous system of various parts of the mice in a controlled manner. Another group of mice were injected with cancerous cells without disabling their nervous system.
Experts observed that the sympathetic nervous system helped in the initial process during the early stages of the disease by producing the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which in turn stimulates the beta receptors on the tumor cells. The lead author has reported that this finding falls in line with the studies that have shown the use of beta blockers a treatment methodology for prostate cancer patients.
Researchers analyzed the cancer tissue of 43 patients who had not received any treatment and found that men with an aggressive form of cancer of the prostate glands had many nerve cells both within the tumor and in the surrounding healthy tissues.
According to Dr. Frenette, with further studies, drugs impacting both types of autonomic nervous system can be developed for an effective treatment of prostate cancers.
High levels of caveolin-1 in the metastatic and advanced stages of cancer were previously used a marker for the progression of the cancer. As the disease progresses, levels of caveolin-1 inside the tumor increases and therapeutic drugs were designed to suppress the Cav-1 levels.
However, a study published last month had suggested that Cav-1 levels decreased in the outer cells of the tumor with progression of the disease. Researchers opine that this could be used in finding effective treatment strategies. A low level of Cav-1 in the outer stroma cells would indicate the risk of recurrence of the disease. Researchers also discovered an increase of cholesterol in the stroma.
A study published this month in Journal of the National Cancer Institute, has confirmed the association of omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish and fish-oil supplements the risk of prostate cancer.
The findings of the large-scale study by scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center reveal a 71% increase in the risk of high-grade prostate cancer by the anti-inflammatory fatty oils. The results further substantiate the findings of a previous European study published last year.
Omega-3 fatty acids are generally known to reduce cholesterol levels. This contradicts the findings that these fatty acids are linked with prostate cancer, which exhibits an increased cholesterol level at advanced stages.
Omega-3 fatty acids are widely popular for their efficiency in reducing risk of heart disease by decreasing the bad cholesterol in the body. With two larger studies coming up with similar negative effects of omega-3 fatty acids, researchers have expressed the need for further studies to understand the biochemical mechanism of these fatty acids.
Prostate cancer, the most common type of cancer next to skin cancer among American men, has been estimated to affect 238,590 men this year alone. It is characterized by the uncontrollable propagation of cancer cells in the prostate glands stimulated by parasympathetic nervous system. It is rare in younger men but it affects those who are over age 50.
Written by: Janet Grace Ortigas