Nerves Fuel Prostate Cancer Growth

Exactly how can nerves fuel growth of prostate cancer?  Much of this is explained in an article written by Hannah Nichols and fact checked by Jasmin Collier.  According to a study conducted by researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, certain nerves support the growth of prostate cancer by a tumor vessel proliferating a switch.

The study was led by Dr Paul Frenette of the Departments of Medicine and Cell Biology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the study is published in the journal Science.

Expanding blood supply to thrive is what solid tumors depend on.  Nerves stimulate the new blood vessels that encourage prostate tumor growth.  We can short-circuit nerve stimulation to prevent the new vessels from forming.  A new strategy for treating prostate cancer is opened up that they may be able to pursue using existing drugs.

More than 172,000 men in the U.S. are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year.  More than 28,000 die from the disease, making prostate cancer the most common form of cancer among men, aside from skin cancer.  The team found the nerves of the sympathetic nervous system that controls the body’s fight-or-flight response, drives the growth of tumors by producing the neurotransmitter norepinephrine.  This promotes tumor growth by binding to and stimulating the receptors on the surface of tumor connective tissue cells.  Researchers reveal how the nerves in connective tissue fuels tumor growth, using a mouse model of prostate cancer.  The nerve fibers release norepinephrine and it binds to receptors on endothelial cells that line the inside of blood vessels.  This activates an angio-metabolic that alters the way the cells metabolize glucose.

More energy is generated by oxidative phosphorylation than glycolysis.  The energy boost provided diminishes endothelial cell function and inhibits angiogenesis or the formation of new blood vessels that sustain tumor growth.  Stimulation from the release of norepinephrine by the nerves maintained the use of glycolysis by the endothelial cells which was shown through their mouse models of prostate cancer.

This enables prostate cancer to escalate from a low-grade precancerous stage to a high-grade malignant stage.  It is worth exploring whether beta-blockers can improve disease outcomes as studies have indicated these drugs lower metastasis rates and boost survival in individuals with prostate cancer.

Dr Fredda Branyon