Colon cancer is caused by bacteria and cell stress
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IMAGE: Proffessor Dirk Haller discovered that it is not cell stress alone that leads to tumor growth, but the cooperation of stress and microbiota — here with Sandra Bierwirth (left) and… view more 

Credit: A. Heddergott/ TUM

“With our study we originally wanted to study the role of bacteria in the intestines in the development of intestinal inflammation,” explains Professor Dirk Haller from the Department of Nutrition and Immunology at the Weihenstephan Science Centre of the TUM. “However, the surprising result for us was the discovery that bacteria together with stress in cells caused tumours (exclusively in the colon) and without the involvement of inflammation”.

The investigations were initially carried out using the mouse model. In germ-free (i.e. sterile) animals, in which the activated transcription factor ATF6 regulated stress in the intestinal mucosa (intestinal epithelium), no change could be observed. But as soon as the microbiota, i.e. all the microorganisms in the intestine, were transplanted back into germ-free animals, tumours developed in the colon of the mice. Using Koch’s postulates, Haller and his team were able to show that microorganisms are involved in the development of cancer in the colon.

The transcription factor ATF6 regulates stress in cells, and

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