Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

As society battles with an obesity epidemic, new research from the Edwards group shows how increased body fat contributes to cancer establishment and progression.

Mouse bone marrow adipocytes stained with bodipy, a fluorescent dye that is taken up by lipid droplets

Multiple myeloma is an incurable haematological cancer associated with the expansion of abnormal plasma cells within the bone marrow and the development of destructive bone disease. In the last couple of decades, bone marrow fat cells (adipocytes) have emerged as having an important role in bone physiology in health and disease. Research from Professor Claire Edwards’ team at the Botnar Research Centre, University of Oxford, and published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, identifies a new mechanism by which myeloma cells alter the bone microenvironment to support disease progression. 

“We have previously shown the importance of diet-induced obesity and low levels of adiponectin, a tumour-suppressive adipokine, in the development of myeloma’ said Professor Claire Edwards. “In this study we show how myeloma cells alter bone marrow adipocytes to regulate production of adiponectin”. The first author of the study, Dr Emma Morris, said “We found that in early-stage myeloma the amount of fat in the bones increased and that myeloma cells utilised the molecules the fat cells produce for growth and survival, with TNF-alpha found to be important in the downregulation of adiponectin”.

Myeloma has been described as an obesity-associated cancer with a 20% increased risk of disease progression in obese individuals. As society battles with an obesity epidemic, efforts to understand the contribution of increased body fat to cancer establishment and progression are becoming increasingly important, with growing evidence for a key role of bone marrow adipose tissue in cancers that arise in or metastasise to bone. 

Meet the team

Myeloma Cells Down‐Regulate Adiponectin in Bone Marrow Adipocytes Via TNF‐Alpha

Journal of Bone and Mineral Research (JBMR)

Similar stories

Dr Matthew Bottomley wins Stewart Cameron Science Award

Congratulations to Dr Matthew Bottomley, who has been announced as the joint winner of the Stewart Cameron Science Award by the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM).

Special issue of JNDS published

Journal of the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences (JNDS) has published a new special issue, featuring highlights from the 2021 NDS Virtual Research Away Day.

Clare Verrill receives Turing Fellowship

Thirty-three University of Oxford researchers have been named Turing Fellows for the 2021/22 academic year, including Associate Professor Clare Verrill from the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences (NDS).

Researchers awarded Wellcome Innovator Grant to investigate role of brainstem nucleus in human consciousness

Researchers at Oxford University have received a prestigious Wellcome Innovator Grant for investigating the role of the pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN) – a brainstem nucleus – in human consciousness.

Discovered gene patterns can predict prostate cancer treatment response

Nearly 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year in the UK. Perhaps the most significant clinical challenge today is deciding which type of treatment will work best for different patient groups.

New Associate Professors announced

The University of Oxford has announced the promotion to Associate Professor of two senior academics at the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences.

Blog posts

Wrap up of 2021

After a brilliant year of hard work and dedication, the SITU team has done some reflection on 2021, focusing on key events, trial progression, and more. Read on to discover how the year 2021 went for the SITU team...

Celebrating Anti-Bullying Week with words of kindness

Keeva Heap, who is undertaking a communications work experience placement at the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences (NDS), shares our words of kindness In honour of Anti-Bullying Week.

My virtual work experience with NDS and NDORMS

Louise Tan, a Year 12 student from Ballyclare in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, recently attended the joint NDS and NDORMS Virtual Work Experience. In this guest blog, Louise reflects on her experience.

Celebrating women of NDS

To celebrate 100 years since women were admitted as full members of the University and on the occasion of International Women's Day, a group of inspirational women in the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences (NDS) reflect on their journeys, their place in Medical Sciences and their vision for the next 100 years.

The life of a research nurse: supporting the Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine Trial

Research nurses in the NHS are playing a crucial role in helping to trial new coronavirus treatments and vaccines. Three NDS research nurses stepped up to help with the fight against this new disease. Here Bhumika Patel shares her experience of working on the Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine Trial.