Cholesterol metabolite induces production of cancer-promoting vesicles
Researcher Erik Nelson
Researcher Erik Nelson
Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
June 11, 2021

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Scientists working to understand the cellular processes linking high cholesterol to breast cancer recurrence and metastasis report that a byproduct of cholesterol metabolism causes some cells to send out cancer-promoting signals to other cells. These signals are packaged in membrane-bound compartments called extracellular vesicles.

Reported in the journal Endocrinology, the discovery could lead to the development of new anti-cancer therapies, researchers say.

“Extracellular vesicles play an important role in normal physiology, but they also have been implicated before in cancer biology,” said study lead Erik Nelson, a professor of molecular and integrative physiology and affiliate of the Division of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. “These particles carry cargo from one cell to another. This cargo is important because it’s diverse and acts as a communication network. But very little is known about what regulates the vesicles.”

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