Total parenteral nutrition and tumor growth in malnourished patients with gastric cancer

Federico Bozzetti, Cecilia Gavazzi, Luca Cozzaglio, Aurora Costa, Pasquale Spinelli, Giovanna Viola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims and background: Evidence that total parenteral nutrition (TPN) can stimulate tumor growth in humans is scanty and contradictory. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of TPN on tumor cell proliferation in malnourished patients receiving preoperative TPN. Methods: We evaluated variations in the S-phase cell fraction, defined as 3H-thymidine labeling index (TLI), before and after 10 days of TPN or non-administration of nutritional support in 19 malnourished patients (weight loss, ≥ 10%) with gastric cancer. TLI was determined on endoscopic biopsies at the time of diagnosis, and subsequently on the operative specimen or through intraoperative sampling. Results: At diagnosis, a higher median TLI value was observed in the control than in the TPN group. Administration of TPN enhanced tumor cell proliferation in 50% of patients; however, at surgery there was no difference in the median TLI value of the two groups. Conclusions: The TPN regimen seems to be associated with increased tumor cell proliferation, even though this stimulating effect was moderate and at surgery the TLI(s) of TPN patients and controls were not different. Although the potential stimulation probably has little consequence for patients receiving short-term preoperative nutrition, it may call for further investigation in cancer patients undergoing long-term home TPN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-166
Number of pages4
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 1999


  • Cell proliferation
  • Gastric cancer
  • Total parenteral nutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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