Cancers in Distant Organs Alter Liver Function to Cancer’s Benefit; Effects Produced Via Extracellular Vesicles and Particles (EVPs) Released by the Cancer Cells; Study Suggests Targeted Interventions Might Be Beneficial

David Lyden, MD, PhD

Cancers often release molecules into the bloodstream that pathologically alter the liver, shifting it to an inflammatory state, causing fat buildup, and impairing its normal detoxifying functions, according to a study from investigators at Weill Cornell Medicine and collaborators at other institutions. This discovery illuminates one of cancer’s more insidious survival mechanisms and suggests the possibility of new tests and drugs for detecting and reversing this process. In the study, published May 24, 2023 in Nature, the researchers found that a wide variety of tumor types growing outside the liver remotely reprogram the liver to a state resembling fatty liver disease via secretion of extracellular vesicles and particles (EVPs) containing fatty acids. The scientists found evidence of this process in animal models of cancer and in the livers of human cancer patients. The Nature article is titled “Tumour Extracellular Vesicles and Particles Induce Liver Metabolic Dysfunction.” “Our findings show that tumors can lead to significant systemic complications including liver disease, but also suggest that these complications can be addressed with future treatments,” said study co-senior author David Lyden (photo) MD, PhD, the Stavros S. Niarchos Professor in Pediatric Cardiology and a Professor of Pediatrics and of Cell and Developmental Biology at Weill Cornell Medicine.

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