Drosophila as a Model for Tumor-Induced Organ Wasting

  • Pedro SaavedraEmail author
  • Norbert PerrimonEmail author
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1167)


In humans, cancer-associated cachexia is a complex syndrome that reduces the overall quality of life and survival of cancer patients, particularly for those undergoing chemotherapy. The most easily observable sign of cachexia is organ wasting, the dramatic loss of skeletal muscle and adipose tissue mass. Estimates suggest that 80% of patients in advanced stages of cancer show signs of the syndrome and about 20% of cancer patients die directly of cachexia. Because there is no treatment or drug available to ameliorate organ wasting induced by cancer, cachexia is a relevant clinical problem. However, it is unclear how cachexia is mediated, what factors drive interactions between tumors and host tissues, and which markers of cachexia might be used to allow early detection before the observable signs of organ wasting. In this chapter, we review the current mammalian models of cachexia and the need to use new models of study. We also explain recent developments in Drosophila as a model for studying organ wasting induced by tumors and how fly studies can help unravel important mechanisms that drive cachexia. In particular, we discuss what lessons have been learned from tumor models recently reported to induce systemic organ wasting in Drosophila.


Drosophila Cachexia Muscle Fat body Organ wasting 



We thank Stephanie Mohr, David Doupe, Arpan Ghosh and Jonathan Zirin for important feedback in the writing of this review. Research in the Perrimon laboratory is supported by the National Institutes of Health and Howard Hughes Medical Institute. PS is a recipient of a Human Frontiers Science Program long-term fellowship (LT000937/2016).


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeneticsBlavatnik Institute, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Howard Hughes Medical InstituteBostonUSA

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