Obesity and cancer-extracellular matrix, angiogenesis, and adrenergic signaling as unusual suspects linking the two diseases

Pellegata, N. S., Diaz, M. B., Rohm, M., and Herzig, S. (2022). Cancer Metastasis Rev 41, 517-547. doi: 10.1007/s10555-022-10058-y


Obesity is an established risk factor for several human cancers. Given the association between excess body weight and cancer, the increasing rates of obesity worldwide are worrisome. A variety of obesity-related factors has been implicated in cancer initiation, progression, and response to therapy. These factors include circulating nutritional factors, hormones, and cytokines, causing hyperinsulinemia, inflammation, and adipose tissue dysfunction. The impact of these conditions on cancer development and progression has been the focus of extensive literature. In this review, we concentrate on processes that can link obesity and cancer, and which provide a novel perspective: extracellular matrix remodeling, angiogenesis, and adrenergic signaling. We describe molecular mechanisms involved in these processes, which represent putative targets for intervention. Liver, pancreas, and breast cancers were chosen as exemplary disease models. In view of the expanding epidemic of obesity, a better understanding of the tumorigenic process in obese individuals might lead to more effective treatments and preventive measures.