Reflections on Cancer in the Bone Marrow: Adverse Roles of Adipocytes

Curr Mol Biol Rep. 2017 Dec;3(4):254-262. doi: 10.1007/s40610-017-0074-6. Epub 2017 Oct 19.


This review highlights the recent advances in our understanding of adipocyte contributions to carcinogenesis or cancer disease progression for cancers in the bone.

Purpose: In this review, we aim to describe bone marrow adipose tissue and discuss the soluble adipocyte-derived cytokines (adipokines) or endocrine factors, adipocyte-derived lipids, and the actual or putative juxtacrine signaling between bone marrow adipocytes and tumor cells in the bone marrow. This relationship likely affects tumor cell initiation, proliferation, metastasis, and/or drug resistance.

Recent findings: Bone marrow adipose may affect tumor proliferation, drug resistance, or cancer-induced bone disease and hence may be a new target in the fight against cancer.

Summary: Overall, evidence is mixed regarding the role of bone marrow adipose and adipocytes in cancer progression, and more research in this arena is necessary to determine how these bone marrow microenvironmental cells contribute to malignancies in the marrow to identify novel, potentially targetable pathways.

Keywords: Adipokine; Bone Marrow Adipocytes; Bone Marrow Adipose Tissue; Cancer.