Neutrophil oxidative stress mediates obesity-associated vascular dysfunction and metastatic transmigration

Nat Cancer. 2021 May;2(5):545-562. doi: 10.1038/s43018-021-00194-9. Epub 2021 May 3.


Metastasis is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths, and obesity is associated with increased breast cancer (BC) metastasis. Preclinical studies have shown that obese adipose tissue induces lung neutrophilia associated with enhanced BC metastasis to this site. Here we show that obesity leads to neutrophil-dependent impairment of vascular integrity through loss of endothelial adhesions, enabling cancer cell extravasation into the lung. Mechanistically, neutrophil-produced reactive oxygen species in obese mice increase neutrophil extracellular DNA traps (NETs) and weaken endothelial junctions, facilitating the influx of tumor cells from the peripheral circulation. In vivo treatment with catalase, NET inhibitors or genetic deletion of Nos2 reversed this effect in preclinical models of obesity. Imaging mass cytometry of lung metastasis samples from patients with cancer revealed an enrichment in neutrophils with low catalase levels correlating with elevated body mass index. Our data provide insights into potentially targetable mechanisms that underlie the progression of BC in the obese population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Neutrophils / metabolism
  • Obesity / complications
  • Oxidative Stress


  • Catalase