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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2020;1234:1-13. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-37184-5_1.

Adipocytes in the Tumour Microenvironment.

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Department of Biochemistry, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NL, Canada.
Department of Biochemistry, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NL, Canada.


Adipose tissue contribution to body mass ranges from 6% in male athletes to over 25% in obese men and over 30% in obese women. Crosstalk between adipocytes and cancer cells that exist in close proximity can lead to changes in the function and phenotype of both cell types. These interactions actively alter the tumour microenvironment (TME). Obesity is one of the major risk factors for multiple types of cancer, including breast cancer. In obesity, the increase in both size and number of adipocytes leads to instability of the TME, as well as increased hypoxia within the TME, which further enhances tumour invasion and metastasis. In this chapter, we will discuss the diverse aspects of adipocytes and adipocyte-derived factors that affect the TME as well as tumour progression and metastasis. In addition, we discuss how obesity affects the TME. We focus primarily on breast cancer but discuss what is known in other cancer types when relevant. We finish by discussing the studies needed to further understand these complex interactions.


Adipocytes; Adipokines; Breast cancer; Chronic inflammation; ECM remodeling; Epithelial to mesenchymal transition; Extracellular matrix (ECM); Hypoxia; Lipid metabolites; Mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition; Metastasis; Obesity; Paracrine/autocrine signaling; Tumour microenvironment

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