Posted on Mar 12, 2018, 2 p.m.
Researchers say that that previous studies have implicated that nerves may fuel prostate
cancer, which prompted Montefiore-Einstein to conduct this pilot study testing beta blockers on
cancers cell in tumors with men that had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Recent studies suggest that certain nerves may sustain prostate cancer growth with triggers that cause tumor
vessels to proliferate according to the researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The study has been published in recently in an issue of Science.
Prostate cancer is 2nd to skin cancer as the most common type of cancer in men. It is estimated
that some 160, 000 new cases will be diagnosed in 2017, and approximately 26,730 men will
die from this disease which accounts for 4.4% of all cancer deaths according to The National
Dr. Frenette and colleagues published a paper in Science that showed how nerves play a key
role in aiding prostate tumors development and spreading, specifically showing that the nerves
of the sympathetic nervous system promoted growth of the tumor by way of producing
norepinephrine, which encouraged the tumor growth by binding and stimulating the receptors on
the tumors connective cell tissues.
This current study uses a mouse model of prostate cancer to examine exactly how nerves within
the connective tissue drive the growth, finding that the binding of norepinephrine to receptors
triggered an angio-metabolic switch that changed how the cells metabolized glucose. Using
glycolysis to metabolize glucose is a phenomenon in cancer cells previously not observed. To
confirm norepinephrine’s trigger role researchers removed a gene that codes it, eliminating the
target. It was then observed cells lacking the receptor were then using oxidative
phosphorylation, as a result the new formation of vessels were inhibited.
Frenette says more research is needed to be done on norepinephrine releasing nerves and
prostate cancer, and investigating beta-blockers effectiveness and ability to help improve the
outcome of the disease. Adding epidemiological studies of these drugs have been found to
show use with men diagnosed with prostate cancer to have decreased metastasis and improved
rates of survival.
Materials provided by Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
Ali H. Zahalka, Anna Arnal-Estapé, Maria Maryanovich, Fumio Nakahara, Cristian D. Cruz, Lydia W.
S. Finley, Paul S. Frenette. Adrenergic nerves activate an angio-metabolic switch in prostate
cancer. Science, 2017; 358 (6361): 321 DOI: 10.1126/science.aah5072