For Hepatocellular Carcinoma, Protein May Trigger Cancer Cell Death

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According to a new study published in the journal Cell Reports, researchers at the University of Tokyo in Tokyo, Japan, have discovered that a protein called apoptosis inhibitor of macrophage (AIM) prevents tumor development in liver cells of mice.


The researchers found that AIM, which is also known as CD5L, accumulates on the cell membrane of hepatocellular carcinoma cells where it activates the complement cascade, a process by which cancer cells are eliminated.


For the study, researchers fed a high-fat diet to mice unable to produce AIM for 1 year. As a result, the mice developed numerous liver tumors. When another group of mice fed the same diet as the first group were treated with AIM, the researchers found no evidence of HCC after 45 weeks, suggesting that the AIM was destroying the tumors.


In addition, the researchers found that AIM only accumulates on cancerous cells, not normal cells, and that it blocks proteins that typically inhibit the complement cascade, thereby activating the process and eliminating cancer cells. AIM also plays a preventive role in obesity progression, and both HCC and obesity are associated with high-fat diets. The researchers hope to use this information to develop AIM as a therapy for humans with HCC.

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A protein called apoptosis inhibitor of macrophage may prevent tumor development in liver cells.

A University of Tokyo research group has discovered that AIM (Apoptosis Inhibitor of Macrophage), a protein that plays a preventive role in obesity progression, can also prevent tumor development in mice liver cells. This discovery may lead to a therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer and the third most common cause of cancer deaths.

Professor Toru Miyazaki's group at the Laboratory of Molecular Biomedicine from Pathogenesis, in the Faculty of Medicine has shown that AIM (also known as CD5L) accumulates on the cell membrane of HCC cells, where it triggers the complement cascade, a highly efficient process of eliminating cancerized cells.

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