Team McCallum

R&D for Lifetime of Life

Socialising v cancer.

The news story is that in mice with cancer, moving them to a richer environment was enough to reduce tumour size significantly and increase the rate of remission. Increased exercise was ruled out as a cause. The benefits were obtained with more space to explore, more mice to interact with and more toys to play with.

The medical experts have questioned whether this would work in humans. But read on – another effect of a richer environment was that the mice lost weight.

A particular part of the brain, the hypothalamus, was found to have higher levels of BDNF (brain derived neurotropic factor).

BDNF influences the amount of leptin produced by fat cells in the body. BDNF was up, and the fat cells were found to produce less leptin and more adiponectin, in mice in the richer environment.

Blocking the BDNF increase blocked the cancer improvement, so BDNF is key.

Leptin is considered an appetite suppressant. The more body fat you have, the more leptin is produced, signalling to stop eating. This breaks down in obese people, who do not produce or do not respond to increased leptin.

Adiponectin regulates uptake of fat and sugar and insulin response. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect. Low levels of adiponectin are found in people who are obese, and those at risk of a heart attack.

The scientists focussed on BDNF up, leptin down as the key cancer reduction cause, when they showed that adding leptin stopped the improvement.

The researchers also found that the spleens of the mice in the enriched environment were more enlarged after they were injected with cancer cells, indicating they had a stronger immune response.

The mice also showed higher levels of stress hormones known as glucocorticoids.

So there is a lot going on here, some of it quite strange. Which means it will take a lot more research before there are results that can easily be applied to humans.


July 10, 2010 - Posted by | Activity, Brain, Cancer, Environment, Fun, Health, Lei Cao, Matthew J During, Obesity, Social networks, Success

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