New study pinpoints mitochondria as key player in dietary fat-cancer connection

The research study is entitled "The Central Role of Mitochondria in the Relationship between Dietary Lipids and Cancer Progression". It revealed new findings on the factors that influence the development of diseases, such as the particularly interesting relationship between dietary fats and the development of cancer. Researchers discovered a key element in this relationship: mitochondria.

In the field of nutrition, the levels of dietary fats in an organism are the results of the interaction between the diet and the metabolic pathways of lipid biosynthesis present in cells. Diet plays an important role in the onset and progression of oncological diseases; several studies have confirmed this. However, mitochondria also stand out as fundamental elements in the progression of this disease, as they act from different perspectives.

Mitochondria are essential organelles in cancer cells and play numerous roles in the energy processing of a eukaryotic cell. One thing that has gained much attention from researchers is that, while tumor cells prefer the process of glycolysis as a source of ATP, it has been shown that mitochondria in tumors can operate oxidative phosphorylation at lower capacities together with glycolysis.

On the other hand, it is evident that lipids play diverse roles in cell biology, from membrane formation and lipid storage to cell signaling. Previous research highlights that, in addition to evidence supporting "de novo" lipogenesis as an important source of lipids for cancer cells, exogenous lipid uptake also remains an important lipid contribution to such cells. By analyzing both in vitro and in vivo findings, it is possible to better understand how fatty acids play a crucial role in cancer cells. From the stimulation of tumor growth to the modulation of molecular pathways involved in physiology and pathological processes.

Lipid metabolism plays a key role in the early stages of carcinogenesis. It has been observed that cancer cells show an increased ability to utilize both exogenous and endogenous lipids to support their rapid proliferation and survival.

In addition, there is evidence that specific lipids, such as omega-3 fatty acids, may have protective effects against cancer. These lipids have anti-inflammatory and anti-angiogenic properties that may help slow tumor growth.

Another interesting aspect focuses on the study of the metabolome to better understand the relationship between dietary lipids and cancer. The metabolome is the total set of metabolites present in a cell under given conditions and reflects the functional and biochemical changes in a pathology such as cancer. Technological advances in mass spectrometry have allowed a detailed characterization of the metabolome, identifying specific changes in lipid composition associated with different types of cancer. This information is valuable for identifying specific biomarkers that can be used in the early diagnosis and monitoring of cancer, as well as in the development of new therapeutic approaches.

The relationship between dietary fats and cancer progression is complex and multifaceted, with mitochondria playing a crucial role in this interaction. Understanding how fats and mitochondria affect carcinogenesis and therapeutic response may have important implications for cancer prevention and treatment. Continuing to investigate this relationship will allow the development of personalized dietary and lifestyle strategies to reduce the risk of cancer and improve the quality of life of patients diagnosed with this disease.

Understanding the dynamics of these interactions is critical to advancing scientific knowledge and developing balanced strategies for nutrition and cancer prevention.

Source:
Journal reference:

Varela-López, A., et al. (2021). The central role of mitochondria in the relationship between dietary lipids and cancer progression. Seminars in Cancer Biology. doi.org/10.1016/j.semcancer.2021.01.001.

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