The Role of Obesity in Renal Cell Carcinoma Patients: Clinical-Pathological Implications

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Nov 13;20(22):5683. doi: 10.3390/ijms20225683.


Obesity is a well-known risk factor for renal cell carcinoma (RCC) development. However, the RCC-obesity link has not been fully addressed when considering a comprehensive scenario starting from pathogenetic aspects through pathological issues up to the outcome of medical treatment. We therefore conducted an electronic PubMed search using keywords "obesity", "body mass index", "overweight", "renal cell carcinoma/kidney cancer", "medical treatment", "targeted therapy", and "immunotherapy/immune checkpoint inhibitors". The selected data supported a crosstalk between adipose tissue (adipocytes and other white adipose tissue cells) and cancer cells inducing several signaling pathways that finally stimulated angiogenesis, survival, and cellular proliferation. Accurate sampling of renal sinus fat correlated with a prognostic value. Retrospective clinical evidence in metastatic RCC patients with higher body mass index (BMI) and treated with targeted therapies and/or immune checkpoint inhibitors showed advantageous survival outcomes. Therefore, obesity may influence the course of RCC patients, although the interplay between obesity/BMI and RCC warrants a large prospective confirmation. We are therefore still far from determining a clear role of obesity as a prognostic/predictive factor in metastatic RCC patients undergoing targeted therapy and immunotherapy.

Keywords: body mass index; clinical outcomes; immunotherapy; obesity; renal cell carcinoma; targeted therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / complications*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / therapy
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Kidney Neoplasms / complications*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology
  • Kidney Neoplasms / therapy
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Prognosis
  • Treatment Outcome