Blocking digestive hormone prevents pancreatic cancer

Here is what a new study has found.

Washington: Turns out, blocking Cholecystokinin (CCK), a digestive hormone, can help in preventing pancreatic cancer.

In comparison to the recent research, previous ones have shown that obesity and high-fat diets both together as well as independently increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.

CCK is released by the small intestine and is associated with obesity. Dietary fat triggers the secretion of CCK and those who follow a diet high in saturated fats often have high levels of CCK. CCK also regulates regeneration that takes place after partial surgical removal of the pancreas.

Pancreatic growth and regeneration occur through the interaction of CCK with CCK receptors, proteins that bind to CCK to produce a physiological reaction.

In separate studies conducted on mices involved the interactions between dietary fat, CCK, and pancreatic cancer cell growth. In all studies, half the mice were fed a high-fat diet and the other half followed a normal diet.

In the first study, half of the animals were treated with proglumide, a medication that blocks CCK. In the second study, the mice had tumours lacking CCK. In the third study, the mice were deficient in CCK and had pancreatic tumours.

After the three studies were conducted, it was found that mice treated with proglumide had less tumour growth than the untreated mice, even when fed a high-fat diet. The mice lacking CCK also did not respond to a high-fat diet. These results suggest that CCK is needed to stimulate the growth of pancreatic cancer.

The high-fat-diet-fed mice lacking CCK receptors did not show any tumour growth, suggesting that without receptors to bind to, increased CCK from dietary fat is unable to promote cancer.

Proglumide treatment also protected the mice from the development of excessive fibrous tissue (fibrosis) that can be associated with cancer metastases and resistance to chemotherapy.

"Most patients with advanced pancreatic cancer succumb to the disease due to metastases; therefore a compound that blocks metastases, even when the primary tumour size is large, may have clinical significance," the researchers wrote.

"CCK [receptor] blockade may play a role in the treatment and prevention of pancreatic cancer," the researchers added.

The study appeared in the American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology.

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