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Obesity, proinflammatory mediators, adipose tissue progenitors, and breast cancer

Bertolini, Francescoa; Orecchioni, Stefaniaa; Petit, Jean-Yvesb; Kolonin, Mikhail G.c

doi: 10.1097/CCO.0000000000000130
BREAST CANCER: Edited by Giuseppe Curigliano

Purpose of review There is emerging evidence that obesity is associated with an increase in the incidence, severity, and mortality from different types of cancer, including postmenopausal breast cancer. Here, we discuss the role of white adipose tissue (WAT) cells and of related soluble factors in the local and metastatic growth of this neoplastic disease. Moreover, we discuss the recent increase in the use of WAT-derived progenitor cells in breast cancer patients to enhance the quality of breast reconstruction and the related risks.

Recent findings In several murine models, WAT cells and progenitors were found to have cooperative roles in promoting local breast cancer. Moreover, they were found to contribute to adipocytes and pericytes supporting the cancer vasculature, and stimulated the metastatic progression of breast cancer. There are some clinically retrospective data showing a significant increase in the frequency of intraepithelial neoplasia in patients who received a lipofilling procedure for breast reconstruction compared with controls.

Summary Preclinical models and clinical studies are urgently needed to investigate how to inhibit the tumor-promoting activity of WAT cells and progenitors. The risks associated with the use of WAT cells for breast reconstructions should be better investigated retrospectively and prospectively.

aLaboratory of Hematology-Oncology

bDivision of Plastic Surgery, European Institute of Oncology, Milan, Italy

cInstitute of Molecular Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas, USA

Correspondence to Francesco Bertolini, MD, PhD, Laboratory of Hematology-Oncology, European Institute of Oncology, Via Ripamonti 435, 20141 Milan, Italy. Tel: +39 2 57489369; fax: +39 2 9437 9236; e-mail:

© 2014 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.