Cancer burns glucose in the primary but fat in lymph nodes

Cancer burns glucose in the primary but fat in lymph nodes

Researchers in Korea have found that while cancer cells in the primary site burn glucose, metastatic cells in lymph nodes burn fatty acids and lipids.

Lymph nodes contain immune substances to fight infections such as cancer; however cancer cells can adapt and grow in the lymph nodes. The question is ‘How?’

Researchers from the Center for Vascular Research within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon, South Korea have shown that while cancer cells in the primary site promote genes that encourage the use of glucose to feed and grow, those that are in the lymph promote genes that use fatty acids. Lymph nodes are anyway lipid-rich.

Medical oncologist Dr. Choong-kun Lee, cancer biologist Dr. Gou Young Koh, and their colleagues also found that lymph nodes are rich in fatty acids and lipids. Studying metastatic lymph nodes of mice with breast cancer and melanoma, they found that a protein dubbed YAP triggered the switch over from glucose to fatty acids.

As usual it’s a cyclic process. The researchers discovered that the tumours themselves produced bile acids, which activated YAP, and switched the tumour over to fat burning.

Finally they used an inhibitor of fatty acid oxidation and switched the tumour off.

Go To: Fat and cancer spread


  1. Choong-kun Lee, Seung-hwan Jeong, Cholsoon Jang, Hosung Bae, Yoo Hyung Kim, Intae Park, Sang Kyum Kim, Gou Young Koh. Tumor metastasis to lymph nodes requires YAP-dependent metabolic adaptation. Science, 2019; 363 (6427):644 DOI: 10.1126/science.aav0173


  Approved by the Medical Board. Click Here 


2020 Research
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