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Cancer Res. 1987 Feb 15;47(4):1065-8.

Blood nutrient concentrations and tumor growth in vivo in rats: relationships during the onset of an acute fast.


The rate of tumor growth in vivo in adult rats (250- to 350-g total body weight) is stimulated during an acute fast. No tumor growth stimulation is observed in fasted immature rats (less than about 200-g total body weight). The different tumor growth responses in rats of these two age groups appear to depend on the increased availability to the tumor of nutrients from host fat stores in adult rats. Immature rats, which lack significant fat stores, show neither hyperlipemia nor ketosis during fasting. These experiments were performed to determine the relationship between blood fat store-derived nutrient concentrations and the onset of stimulated tumor growth in fasted adult rats. Animals were matched for tumor size and growth during a period of ad libitum feeding preceding the fast. Tumor growth was documented by increased size and incorporation of [methyl-3H]thymidine into tumor DNA. Mobilization of host fat stores leading to increased blood concentrations of free fatty acids, glycerol, ketone bodies, and triglycerides started about 7 h after food was removed and reached its maximum after about 15 h. Increased rates of tumor growth and incorporation of thymidine into tumor DNA correlated closely with the higher circulating nutrient concentrations. Both the nutrient concentrations and tumor growth were decreased by refeeding. These findings suggest that the availability of nutrients derived from host fat stores may be rate limiting for tumor growth in vivo.

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