New Study Sheds Light on Role of Macrophages in Creation of Spheroids That Promote Implantation Metastasis of Ovarian Cancer; Findings May Lead to Earlier Diagnosis & Treatment of Deadly Disease

A very high mortality rate is associated with ovarian cancer (OC), in part due to difficulties in detecting and diagnosing the disease at early stages before tumors have metastasized to other locations in the body. During metastasis, ovarian tumor cells break away from the original tumor site into the abdominal cavity, where macrophages help the cancer cells survive and migrate to other locations. Published online on October 10, 2016 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, an article authored by Wang Min, Ph.D. at Yale University, and colleagues, describes how a subtype of macrophages communicates with and supports tumor cell growth to drive metastasis in OC. Researchers determined that tumor cells attract macrophages by releasing cytokines. These macrophages then secrete growth factors that help the tumor cells multiply to form tumor cell spheroids [Editor’s Note: Spheroids are clusters of tumor cells found in the peritoneal fluid of patients that are thought to promote metastasis by implantation into the mesothelial monolayer on the walls of peritoneal and pleural cavity organs.] In a mouse model of ovarian cancer, inhibiting these growth factors reduced the formation of tumor cell spheroids and ovarian tumor growth. These findings add to an understanding of the early stages of ovarian tumor metastasis, which may lead to the development of more effective early diagnostic approaches as well as therapies to prevent metastasis. The open-access JCI article is titled “Tumor-Associated Macrophages Drive Spheroid Formation During Early Transcoelomic Metastasis of Ovarian Cancer.” In the article, the researchers write that tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) “play an essential role in spheroid formation during the process of transcoelomic metastasis of OC.
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