Adipocytes in Breast Cancer, the Thick and the Thin.

Ilona Rybinska, Roberto Agresti, Anna Trapani, Elda Tagliabue, Tiziana Triulzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is well established that breast cancer development and progression depend not only on tumor-cell intrinsic factors but also on its microenvironment and on the host characteristics. There is growing evidence that adipocytes play a role in breast cancer progression. This is supported by: i) epidemiological studies reporting the association of obesity with a higher cancer risk and poor prognosis, ii) recent studies demonstrating the existence of a cross-talk between breast cancer cells and adipocytes locally in the breast that leads to acquisition of an aggressive tumor phenotype, and iii) evidence showing that cancer cachexia applies also to fat tissue and shares similarities with stromal-carcinoma metabolic synergy. This review summarizes the current knowledge on the epidemiological link between obesity and breast cancer and outlines the results of the tumor-adipocyte crosstalk. We also focus on systemic changes in body fat in patients with cachexia developed in the course of cancer. Moreover, we discuss and compare adipocyte alterations in the three pathological conditions and the mechanisms through which breast cancer progression is induced.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2020


  • *obesity
  • *breast cancer
  • *adipocytes
  • *adipokines
  • *cachexia
  • *cancer associated adipocytes (CAAs)


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