Colder temperatures inhibit tumor growth in mice

posted on 8/4/2022 1:20 PM / updated on 8/4/2022 1:57 PM


(credit: Reproduction/Inmet)

The colder temperatures were able to hinder the growth of cancer cells in mice, according to research by experts at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

The results of the study were published in the scientific journal nature, on Wednesday (3/8), and demonstrate that cooler temperatures activate brown fat, which is part of adipose tissue and produces heat that consumes the sugars that tumors need to thrive. That is, brown adipose tissue competes with tumors for glucose and this action can inhibit tumor growth.

The researchers compared the tumor growth and survival rate of mice with various cancers when exposed to hot and cold conditions. Those animals exposed to a temperature of 4°C had slower tumor growth and lived twice as long compared to those exposed to a temperature of 30°C.

Markers were analyzed in brown adipose tissue to study cellular reactions, and the researchers used imaging tests to examine glucose metabolism. Normally, cancer cells need large amounts of glucose to grow.

Brown fat is a type of fat responsible for keeping the body warm during cold conditions and the researchers noticed that cold temperatures triggered significant absorption of glucose in brown adipose tissue.

To prove the theory, the researchers removed brown fat or a protein crucial for metabolism called UCP1, and the beneficial effect of cold exposure was essentially eliminated: the tumors grew at a similar rate to those that were exposed to higher temperatures. Similarly, when tumor-bearing mice were given drinks with a high sugar content, the effect of cold temperatures was also minimized and the tumor grew back.


human testing

The relevance of the results in the human organism was also tested. Seven volunteers participated: one with cancer and undergoing chemotherapy and the other six were healthy. Positron emission tomography (PET) scans were performed that revealed a significant amount of activated brown fat in the neck, spine and chest of healthy adults, who wore shorts and T-shirts while exposed to an ambient temperature of 16°C for up to six hours per day. day for two weeks.

The cancer patient wore light clothes and stayed in a room with a temperature of 22°C for a week and then in a room with a temperature of 28°C for four days. Thus, the imaging tests showed the increase in brown fat and reduced glucose uptake from the tumor during the lower temperature compared to the higher one.

“We are, therefore, optimistic that cold therapy and activation of brown adipose tissue with other approaches, such as drugs, could represent another tool in the treatment of cancer”, points out Yihai Cao, one of the authors of the research.

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