Cancer Cachexia and Fat Metabolism

  • Josep M. Argilés
  • Vanessa Almendro
  • Sílvia Busquets
  • Francisco J. López-Soriano


Cancer cachexia is one of the worst effects of malignancy, accounting for nearly a third of cancer deaths. It is a pathological state characterised by weight loss together with anorexia, weakness, anaemia, and asthaenia. The complications associated with the appearance of the cachectic syndrome affect both the physiological and biochemical balance of the patient and influence the efficiency of anticancer treatment, resulting in a considerably decreased survival time. At the metabolic level, cachexia is associated with loss of body lipid stores. Alterations in lipid metabolism are partially mediated by changes in circulating hormone concentrations (insulin, glucagon, and glucocorticoids, in particular) or in their effectiveness. However, a large number of observations point towards cytokines, polypeptides released mainly by immune cells, as the molecules responsible for the above-mentioned metabolic derangements. The role of humoral factors in fat metabolism in the cancer patient has been discussed; among cytokines, tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) seems to have a key role in the lipid metabolic changes associated with cancer cachexia.


Adipose Tissue White Adipose Tissue Bulimia Nervosa Cancer Cachexia Lipoprotein Lipase Activity 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Josep M. Argilés
    • 1
  • Vanessa Almendro
    • 1
  • Sílvia Busquets
    • 1
  • Francisco J. López-Soriano
    • 1
  1. 1.Cancer Research Group, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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