The significant increase in the incidence of obesity represents the next global health crisis. As a result, scientific research has focused on gaining deeper insights into obesity and adipose tissue biology. As a result of the excessive accumulation of adipose tissue, obesity results from hyperplasia and hypertrophy within the adipose tissue. The functional alterations in the adipose tissue are a confounding contributing factor to many diseases, including cancer. The increased incidence and aggressiveness of several cancers, including colorectal, postmenopausal breast, endometrial, prostate, esophageal, hematological, malignant melanoma, and renal carcinomas, result from obesity as a contributing factor. The increased morbidity and mortality of obesity-associated cancers are attributable to increased hormones, adipokines, and cytokines produced by the adipose tissue. The increased adipose tissue levels observed in obese patients result in more adipose stromal/stem cells (ASCs) distributed throughout the body. ASCs have been shown to impact cancer progression in vitro and in preclinical animal models. ASCs influence tumor biology via multiple mechanisms, including the increased recruitment of ASCs to the tumor site and increased production of cytokines and growth factors by ASCs and other cells within the tumor stroma. Emerging evidence indicates that obesity induces alterations in the biological properties of ASCs, subsequently leading to enhanced tumorigenesis and metastasis of cancer cells. As the focus of this review is the interaction and impact of ASCs on cancer, the presentation is limited to preclinical data generated on cancers in which there is a demonstrated role for ASCs, such as postmenopausal breast, colorectal, prostate, ovarian, multiple myeloma, osteosarcoma, cervical, bladder, and gastrointestinal cancers. Our group has investigated the interactions between obesity and breast cancer and the mechanisms that regulate ASCs and adipocytes in these different contexts through interactions between cancer cells, immune cells, and other cell types present in the tumor microenvironment (TME) are discussed. The reciprocal and circular feedback loop between obesity and ASCs and the mechanisms by which ASCs from obese patients alter the biology of cancer cells and enhance tumorigenesis will be discussed. At present, the evidence for ASCs directly influencing human tumor growth is somewhat limited, though recent clinical studies suggest there may be some link.
- Adipose stromal cells
- Tumor microenvironment