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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Obesity and Immune Function in Breast Cancer Event

Dr Charles Birts
20 March 2019
Building 35 Room 1005 (Lecture Theatre 2)

For more information regarding this event, please telephone Maria Hilliard on 02380 594728 or email .

Event details

Obesity increases the risk of breast cancer occurrence and related mortality. Stromal adipocytes in obese adipose secrete chemo-attractants that recruit macrophages into the tissue. Macrophages are phagocytic immune cells demonstrating a range of functions from pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory depending on how they are activated. In adipose, inflammatory macrophages form crown-like structures at sites of adipocyte death. These macrophages produce further inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6, IL-8 and TGF-B that act to sustain chronic inflammation promoting the onset and growth of tumours. The number of crown-like structures in breast cancer associated adipose is significantly increased in patients with a BMI>25. Fcγ receptors on the macrophage cell surface can bind the Fc region of antibodies. This binding can either be activatory or inhibitory in nature. Obesity can alter this ratio of activatory: inhibitory Fcγ receptors and can thus effect the efficacy of antibody therapies by modulating immune effector cell function within the tumour. By fully understanding these processes, we aim to improve clinical outcomes for breast cancer patients.

Speaker information

Dr Charles Birts,University of Southampton

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