Role of BNIP3 gene in controlling fat metabolism in liver cancer
Worldwide, obesity has tripled since 1975, creating a global health crisis. Being obese increases our risk of 13 different cancers, including the most common liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). If you have HCC, being obese increases your risk of dying by up to four times. Understanding how obesity triggers this cancer is key to identifying at-risk people and finding new treatments. Here, we see a liver (red) from a mouse missing the BNIP3 gene. When scientists treated mice with a chemical that causes HCC, tumours (white) grew faster and bigger in those lacking BNIP3. Researchers also showed that people with HCC and low BNIP3 activity have fattier livers and worse survival rates. This gene slows the growth of HCC by delivering fat stores in the liver to our cellular disposal machinery. Finding ways to switch BNIP3 back on in HCC could be a new strategy to treat the disease.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.