The fat and the bad: Mature adipocytes, key actors in tumor progression and resistance

Oncotarget. 2017 May 20;8(34):57622-57641. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.18038. eCollection 2017 Aug 22.


Growing evidence has raised the important roles of adipocytes as an active player in the tumor microenvironment. In many tumors adipocytes are in close contact with cancer cells. They secrete various factors that can mediate local and systemic effects. The adipocyte-cancer cell crosstalk leads to phenotypical and functional changes of both cell types, which can further enhance tumor progression. Moreover, obesity, which is associated with an increase in adipose mass and an alteration of adipose tissue, has been established as a risk factor for cancer incidence and cancer-related mortality. In this review, we summarize the mechanisms of the adipocyte-cancer cell crosstalk in both obese and lean conditions as well as its impact on cancer cell growth, local invasion, metastatic spread and resistance to treatments. Better characterization of cancer-associated adipocytes and the key molecular events in the adipocyte-cancer cell crosstalk will provide insights into tumor biology and suggest efficient therapeutic opportunities.

Keywords: adipocytes; adipose tissue; cancer progression; invasion; resistance.

Publication types

  • Review