Researchers from Duke Cancer Institute in North Carolina found that a specific metabolite of cholesterol formed by CYP27A1, a molecule called 27-hydroxycholesterol or 27HC, functions like estrogen and promotes tumor growth and metastasis in mouse models of mammary cancer. They noted that this metabolite serves as a partial agonist for a potent estrogen receptor and the liver X receptor. Furthermore, observing that the most aggressive human breast cancers were found to express the highest level of the enzyme that converts cholesterol to 27HC, the researchers conclude that 27HC produced within tumors – in addition to circulating 27HC – may contribute to tumorigenesis, spurring the growth and spread of the most common breast cancer in mice, and perhaps in some women.  
For more information:
 How Cholesterol is Fueling the Growth and Spread of Breast Cancer. Onco’Zine – The International Oncology Network; November 28, 2013 [Article]
 Kaiser J. Cholesterol Forges Link Between Obesity and Breast Cancer Science 2013 Nov 29; 342 (6162) 1028. DOI: 10.1126/science.342.6162.1028 [Article]
Photo: Cells treated with the cholesterol metabolite 27HC. Photo courtesy: Duke Medicine.
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