New research from the University of Illinois at Chicago have shown that cancer cells in the fallopian tube affect the normal chemical signaling between reproductive tissue and stimulate the release of norepinephrine, a small molecular hormones from the ovary.
A study published in ACS Central Science, open-access journal published by the American Chemical Society, shows that cancer cells use the connection between fallopian tube and ovary, to create an environment that is more hospitable for its growth, and that the increase in norepinephrine levels causes cancer cells to migrate from the fallopian tube into the ovary.
Joanna Burdett, co-author of UIC study says a common misconception that ovarian cancer cells form in the ovary.
"Over the past several years, we have concluded that ovarian cancer cells, in particular high-serous ovarian cancer cells that are derived from the fallopian tube and migrate to the ovary", - said Burdett, a professor of medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy in the UIC Farmatsevtskom University.
Using imaging mass spectrometry and ovarian tissue in mice, researchers to visualize the spatial distribution of chemical signals around the ovarian tissue in response to eight different cell environments, including cells engineered to represent the healthy cells of the fallopian tube and fallopian tube ovarian cells at various developmental stages.
They found that the norepinephrine concentration increases significantly and centralized around ovary only when there are cancer cells obtained from the fallopian tube.
"This tells us that the relationship between fallopian tube and ovary changes when normal cells of the fallopian tubes are developed to become aggressive, especially when they are in close proximity to the ovary", - said Burdett.
Laura Sanchez, the corresponding author of the study, said the findings suggest an important role of chemical signaling in the development of ovarian cancer.
"When it comes to cancer research, chemistry is often overlooked in favor of studying the effect of different proteins in the signaling cells, but here we show that cancer is essentially captures the whole process of chemical signaling between normal tissue in their favor," - said Sanchez, associate professor medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy in the UIC pharmacy.
"Using this new platform of mass spectrometry, we were able to unlock one half of a complex puzzle. Now we know that if there is crosstalk between cancer of the fallopian tube and ovary are changing. We do not yet know what signals the fallopian tube to the ovary, but we know that it causes the ovary to release norepinephrine, which signals that cancer cells migrate. "
"The results shed light on the new researchers that scientists can study in search of better treatment protocols, and possibly even preventive opportunities," - said Burdett. "Any progress that we can make for a better understanding of ovarian cancer has the potential to improve outcomes that are usually worse in high-grade serous ovarian cancer than in many others."
According to the American Cancer Society, 22,201 women in the US will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2018 and that the majority (85 percent) are diagnosed after the cancer has spread, making it difficult to cure.
The findings also highlight the utility of mass spectrometry imaging to study the chemical bond between many different tissues and cells.
"This approach can be applied to a wide range of cell and tissue types of solutions for many conditions."