March 1, 2024

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‘Crown Structures’ around breast tumors may hinder cancer treatment

‘Crown Structures’ around breast tumors may hinder cancer treatment


Scientists discover ‘crown structures’ around breast tumors may hinder cancer treatment

A new study from the University of Southampton has found that ‘corona structures’ around breast tumors in overweight and obese patients may hinder their response to treatment.

These new findings have the potential to be used to improve the personalized treatment of breast cancer patients with HER2-positive overexpression.




Adipose tissue, or body fat, is an important component of healthy human breasts, yet a high body mass index (BMI) is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

In addition, overweight breast cancer patients also have poorer survival than healthy-weight patients.


In patients with a high BMI, increased body fat around the breast causes inflammatory immune cells called macrophages to accumulate in the fatty tissue of the breast.

These macrophages can then form “crowns” by surrounding these fat cells.

This creates an inflammatory environment in the breast, which in turn can lead to tumor development and growth.


How these coronary structures continue to influence breast cancer progression and response to treatment is largely unknown.


'Crown Structures' around breast tumors may hinder cancer treatment


The research team, led by Prof. Stephen Beers, Prof. Ramsey Cutress and Dr. Charles Birts, evaluated a cohort of samples from HER2+ breast cancer patients to investigate the link between high BMI and the formation of coronary structures and how these structures contribute to a patient’s condition.

Subsequent effects on response to treatment with a drug called trastuzumab.


The findings, published in Scientific Reports, showed that overweight or obese patients had significantly more coronary structures in the adipose tissue surrounding the tumor, which was associated with a faster time to onset of metastatic disease, which is A marker of how well a patient responds to treatment.


They then went on to identify a potential molecular biomarker — called CD32B — on the surface of macrophages in these crowns.

When this marker was present in overweight and obese patients, they responded poorly to trastuzumab treatment.


'Crown Structures' around breast tumors may hinder cancer treatment


Stephen Beers, Professor of Immunology and Immunotherapy at the University of Southampton, mentioned:

These findings will be of interest to clinicians and researchers involved in breast cancer treatment, as they have the potential to be used to develop personalized treatments for patients with HER2-positive overexpressing breast cancer.

Doctors, for example, will know that patients with a high body mass index and markers on their coronary structures are more likely to respond poorly to trastuzumab.

Therefore, they may benefit from more intensive anti-HER2 therapy earlier in treatment. On the other hand, this study highlights how effective trastuzumab treatment is in patients without the marker.

Therefore, these patients could benefit from lower doses of anti-HER2 therapy, which may minimize the side effects they experience.

To help confirm these initial findings, further studies with more patients will be needed.


The research team is now investigating how to alter the behavior of these coronary structures to improve response to breast cancer treatment.




‘Crown Structures’ around breast tumors may hinder cancer treatment

Picture from University of Southampton

(source:internet, reference only)

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Important Note: The information provided is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice.