Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Cancers


Several molecular imaging modalities have been evaluated in the management of Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC), a rare and aggressive tumor with a high tendency to metastasize. Continuous progress in the field of molecular imaging might improve management in these patients. The authors review the current modalities and their impact on MCC in this brief review article.

Concepts: Cancer, The Current, Merkel cell cancer, Merkel cell


Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is the most challenging subtype to treat due to the lack of estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and HER2 expression, which excludes the usage of directed targeted therapy against them. Promising therapeutic targets are the hepatocyte growth factor receptor (MET) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which expression is frequently elevated in TNBC. Inhibitors of these receptors used as monotherapy are often ineffective. Due to that, we studied the efficacy of combined therapy targeting MET and EGFR simultaneously. Two TNBC cell lines were treated with lapatinib (a dual EGFR and HER2 inhibitor), foretinib (a MET inhibitor), or a combination of the two. After the inhibitors treatment, we verified the cell viability (XTT assay), distribution of the cell cycle phases, the activation of signaling pathways (Western blotting), distribution of invadopodia, fluorescent gelatin digestion (immunofluorescence), and the invasion capacity of cells. A combination of foretinib and lapatinib effectively reduced the viability of examined cells, led to G2/M arrest and reduction of pAKT. There was also a decreasein number of invadopodia formed by cells, their ability to digest gelatin and reduction of cells migration/invasion capacity. Therapy targeting of both EGFR and MET receptors was much more effective against tested cells than monotherapy. We selected a combination of drugs that could be successfully used against this breast cancer subtype.


Rodent models of liver tumorigenesis have reproducibly shown that dietary sugar intake is a powerful driver of liver tumor initiation and growth. In contrast, dietary sugar restriction with ketogenic diets or calorie restriction generally prevents liver tumor formation. Ketogenic diet is viewed positively as a therapeutic adjuvant; however, most ketogenic diet studies described to date have been performed in prevention mode rather than treatment mode. Therefore, it remains unclear whether a ketogenic diet can be administered in late stages of disease to stall or reverse liver tumor growth. To model the clinically relevant treatment mode, we administered a ketogenic diet to mice after liver tumor initiation and monitored tumor growth by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Male C57BL/6 mice were injected with diethylnitrosamine (DEN) at 2 weeks of age and fed a chow diet until 39 weeks of age, when they underwent MRI imaging to detect liver tumors. Mice were then randomised into two groups and fed either a chow diet or switched to a ketogenic diet from 40⁻48 weeks of age. Serial MRIs were performed at 44 and 48 weeks of age. All mice had tumors at study completion and there were no differences in total tumor burden between diet groups. Although a ketogenic diet has marked protective effects against DEN-induced liver tumourigenesis in this mouse model, these data demonstrate that ketogenic diet cannot stop the progression of established liver tumors.


Unlike most epithelial malignancies which metastasize hematogenously, metastasis of epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) occurs primarily via transcoelomic dissemination, characterized by exfoliation of cells from the primary tumor, avoidance of detachment-induced cell death (anoikis), movement throughout the peritoneal cavity as individual cells and multi-cellular aggregates (MCAs), adhesion to and disruption of the mesothelial lining of the peritoneum, and submesothelial matrix anchoring and proliferation to generate widely disseminated metastases. This exceptional microenvironment is highly permissive for phenotypic plasticity, enabling mesenchymal-to-epithelial (MET) and epithelial-to-mesenchymal (EMT) transitions. In this review, we summarize current knowledge on EOC heterogeneity in an EMT context, outline major regulators of EMT in ovarian cancer, address controversies in EMT and EOC chemoresistance, and highlight computational modeling approaches toward understanding EMT/MET in EOC.

Concepts: Cancer, Breast cancer, Metastasis, Oncology, Lung cancer, Prostate cancer, Testicular cancer, Ovarian cancer


The tumor suppressor p53 as the “guardian of the genome” plays an essential role in numerous signaling pathways that control the cell cycle, cell death and in maintaining the integrity of the human genome. p53, depending on the intracellular localization, contributes to the regulation of various cell death pathways, including apoptosis, autophagy and necroptosis. Accumulated evidence suggests that this function of p53 is closely involved in the process of cancer development. Here, present knowledge concerning a p53-autophagy-metastasis link, as well as therapeutic approaches that influence this link, are discussed.


Integrins are key regulators of communication between cells and with their microenvironment. Eight members of the integrin superfamily recognize the tripeptide motif Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) within extracelluar matrix (ECM) proteins. These integrins constitute an important subfamily and play a major role in cancer progression and metastasis via their tumor biological functions. Such transmembrane adhesion and signaling receptors are thus recognized as promising and well accessible targets for novel diagnostic and therapeutic applications for directly attacking cancer cells and their fatal microenvironment. Recently, specific small peptidic and peptidomimetic ligands as well as antibodies binding to distinct integrin subtypes have been developed and synthesized as new drug candidates for cancer treatment. Understanding the distinct functions and interplay of integrin subtypes is a prerequisite for selective intervention in integrin-mediated diseases. Integrin subtype-specific ligands labelled with radioisotopes or fluorescent molecules allows the characterization of the integrin patterns in vivo and later the medical intervention via subtype specific drugs. The coating of nanoparticles, larger proteins, or encapsulating agents by integrin ligands are being explored to guide cytotoxic reagents directly to the cancer cell surface. These ligands are currently under investigation in clinical studies for their efficacy in interference with tumor cell adhesion, migration/invasion, proliferation, signaling, and survival, opening new treatment approaches in personalized medicine.

Concepts: Protein, Cancer, Breast cancer, Oncology, Lung cancer, Benign tumor, Tumor, Neoplasm


Brain tumor glioblastoma has no clear molecular signature and there is no effective therapy. In rodents, the intracellular distribution of the cyclic AMP (cAMP)-dependent protein kinase (Protein kinase A, PKA) R2Alpha subunit was previously shown to differentiate tumor cells from healthy brain cells. Now, we aim to validate this observation in human tumors. The distribution of regulatory (R1 and R2) and catalytic subunits of PKA was examined via immunohistochemistry and Western blot in primary cell cultures and biopsies from 11 glioblastoma patients. Data were compared with information obtained from 17 other different tumor samples. The R1 subunit was clearly detectable only in some samples. The catalytic subunit was variably distributed in the different tumors. Similar to rodent tumors, all human glioblastoma specimens showed perinuclear R2 distribution in the Golgi area, while it was undetectable outside the tumor. To test the effect of targeting PKA as a therapeutic strategy, the intracellular cyclic AMP concentration was modulated with different agents in four human glioblastoma cell lines. A significant increase in cell death was detected after increasing cAMP levels or modulating PKA activity. These data raise the possibility of targeting the PKA intracellular pathway for the development of diagnostic and/or therapeutic tools for human glioblastoma.

Concepts: Cell, Cancer, Molecular biology, Cell biology, Brain tumor, Cellular differentiation, Cell culture, Protein subunit


Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for 85% of all lung cancer cases, and for the most cancer-related deaths. The survival pathway of Akt, its downstream effectors, the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and ribosomal protein S6 kinase (p70 S6K), and the Ras-extracellular signal-regulated kinase (Erk1/2) pathways are activated in cancer leading to cell survival and growth. Thus, approaches that inhibit these signaling molecules may prove useful in the fight against lung cancer. Exercise is associated with health benefits and a limited number of studies indicate that serum from physically active individuals inhibit mammary and prostate cancer cell growth. In this study, we examined the effects of post exercise serum on proliferation, survival, and signaling cascades of human NSCLC cells. Blood was collected from male subjects prior to, 5 min, 1 h, and 24 h after a single bout of high intensity interval exercise on a cycle ergometer. Exposure of NSCLC cells to post exercise serum resulted in the inhibition of cell proliferation and survival, as well as significant reduction of phosphorylated/activated Akt, mTOR, p70 S6K, and Erk1/2 levels compared to cells treated with serum taken pre-exercise. Our data suggest that post exercise serum has anti-cancer properties in lung cancer and deserves further systematic investigation in animal models.

Concepts: Protein, Cancer, Metastasis, Bacteria, Lung cancer, Non-small cell lung carcinoma, Cell division, Obesity


Low invasive tests with high sensitivity for colorectal cancer and advanced precancerous lesions will increase adherence rates, and improve clinical outcomes. We have performed an ultra-performance liquid chromatography/time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UPLC-(TOF) MS)-based metabolomics study to identify faecal biomarkers for the detection of patients with advanced neoplasia. A cohort of 80 patients with advanced neoplasia (40 advanced adenomas and 40 colorectal cancers) and 49 healthy subjects were analysed in the study. We evaluated the faecal levels of 105 metabolites including glycerolipids, glycerophospholipids, sterol lipids and sphingolipids. We found 18 metabolites that were significantly altered in patients with advanced neoplasia compared to controls. The combinations of seven metabolites including ChoE(18:1), ChoE(18:2), ChoE(20:4), PE(16:0/18:1), SM(d18:1/23:0), SM(42:3) and TG(54:1), discriminated advanced neoplasia patients from healthy controls. These seven metabolites were employed to construct a predictive model that provides an area under the curve (AUC) median value of 0.821. The inclusion of faecal haemoglobin concentration in the metabolomics signature improved the predictive model to an AUC of 0.885. In silico gene expression analysis of tumour tissue supports our results and puts the differentially expressed metabolites into biological context, showing that glycerolipids and sphingolipids metabolism and GPI-anchor biosynthesis pathways may play a role in tumour progression.


Cancer tissues are composed of cancer cells and the surrounding stromal cells (e.g., fibroblasts, vascular endothelial cells, and immune cells), in addition to the extracellular matrix. Most studies investigating carcinogenesis and the progression, invasion, metastasis, and angiogenesis of cancer have focused on alterations in cancer cells, including genetic and epigenetic changes. Recently, interactions between cancer cells and the stroma have attracted considerable attention, and increasing evidence has accumulated on this. Several researchers have gradually clarified the origins, features, and roles of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), a major component of the cancer stroma. CAFs function in a similar manner to myofibroblasts during wound healing. We previously reported the relationship between CAFs and angiogenesis. Interleukin-6 (IL-6), a multifunctional cytokine, plays a central role in regulating inflammatory and immune responses, and important roles in the progression, including proliferation, migration, and angiogenesis, of several cancers. We showed that CAFs are an important IL-6 source and that anti-IL-6 receptor antibody suppressed angiogenesis and inhibited tumor-stroma interactions. Furthermore, CAFs contribute to drug-resistance acquisition in cancer cells. The interaction between cancer cells and the stroma could be a potential target for anti-cancer therapy.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Cancer, Metastasis, Oncology, Wound healing, Extracellular matrix, Angiogenesis