Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Expelled DNA that Traps Toxins May Backfire in Obese

Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Last Updated: Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Bookmark and Share
The body’s most powerful immune cells may have a radical way of catching their prey that could backfire on people who are overweight.

The research describes the phenomenon and its potential cause, why it may threaten health and how to use this knowledge to develop new therapies for an array of diseases. It was published in Frontiers in Immunology this past spring.

The study is the first to show that the DNA of macrophages, the biggest immune cells, can unravel and move outside the cell to snag invading pathogens. Called extracellular traps, these sticky DNA remnants can occur anywhere, but the study found a troubling number inside rafts of macrophages surrounding dead fat cells in obese mice.

In that extracellular environment, the traps feed a vicious cycle of inflammation, increasing risk of several major diseases, the scientists predict. Uncovering what causes macrophage DNA to unravel, the study included a description indicating new preventative therapies for these diseases may be near at hand.

“Our collaborator, Paul Thompson at Scripps, has developed a new drug that we have shown can block trap formation and cancer growth by inhibiting the process that triggers macrophage DNA to unravel and become traps,” said Scott Coonrod, associate professor at the Baker Institute for Animal Health at Cornell, who oversaw the study.  “We envision someday using this new drug as a preventative therapy for cancer and other inflammation-related diseases.”

A chemical event called hyper-citrillunation appears to cause extracellular trap formation, according to Coonrod’s findings. It occurs when histones, which pack DNA into the nucleus, lose their electrical attraction to DNA, causing the roughly 2-meters-worth of DNA to be propelled outside the cell. While these traps normally help to clean up bacteria following infections, they also have a dark side. They are increasingly being found in diseases that do not have an infectious component, suggesting that, in some cases, traps may actually promote disease progression.

Breast cancer presents a particular concern for people who are overweight, said Coonrod’s collaborator Dr. Andrew Dannenberg at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dannenberg’s team was the first to find crown-like-structures (CLS), donut-shaped chunks of dead fat cells that are surrounded by macrophages, in human breasts. Dannenberg’s work suggests that these structures release inflammatory signals that increase the risk of breast cancer.

“One of macrophages’ jobs is to clean up dead cells,” said Coonrod. “When they come to sites with CLS to vacuum up the dead fat, the environment is full of inflammatory chemicals that promote trap formation. We looked at CLS lesions in breast tissue to see if macrophage traps were there. Our initial findings suggest that they are.”

Inflammation plays a large role in the development of cancer. The Coonrod group is currently looking into the possibility that trap production in CLS lesions promotes inflammation.

“While still in the early stages, these findings are exciting because we have a drug that can block trap production,” said Coonrod. “One could imagine that our anti-trap drug might be used one day to prevent disease by suppressing inflammation in inflammatory environments, such as breast tissue in women who are obese, thereby preventing disease progression.”

The research “Identification of Macrophage Extracellular Trap-Like Structures in Mammary Gland Adipose Tissue: A Preliminary Study,” was published in March and was supported in part by a U.S. Department of Defense Hope Scholar Award, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the Botwinick–Wolfensohn Foundation.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Tumor-suppressing Gene Lends Insight to Cancer Treatment
Researchers have found that delicate replication process derails if a gene named PTEN has mutated or is absent.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
$5.5M NSF Grant Aims to Improve Rice Crops with Genome Editing
Researchers to precisely target, cut, remove and replace DNA in a living cell to improve rice.
Friday, May 08, 2015
A ‘STAR’ is Born: Engineers Devise Genetic 'On' Switch
A new “on” switch to control gene expression has been developed by Cornell scientists.
Tuesday, February 03, 2015
Computer Model Reveals Cancer's Energy Source
Findings focused on the energy-making process in cancer cells known as the Warburg Effect.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
For Cancer Patients, Sugar-Coated Cells are Deadly
Paszek’s lab will focus on developing high-resolution microscopy to further study cell membrane-related cancer mechanisms.
Friday, June 27, 2014
Shark, Human Proteins are Surprisingly Similar
Despite widespread fascination with sharks, the world’s oldest ocean predators have long been a genetic mystery.
Friday, December 06, 2013
Gold-Plated Nano-Bits Find, Destroy Cancer Cells
Scientists have merged tiny gold and iron oxide particles, then added antibody guides to steer them through the bloodstream toward colorectal cancer cells.
Monday, October 21, 2013
Using Genes to Rescue Animal and Plants from Extinction
With estimates of losing 15 to 40 percent of the world’s species over the next four decades researchers whether science should employ genetic engineering to the rescue.
Friday, September 27, 2013
Dad’s Genes Build Placentas
Though placentas support the fetus and mother, it turns out that the organ grows according to blueprints from dad.
Monday, August 12, 2013
Physicists Tease out Twisted Torques of DNA
Like an impossibly twisted telephone cord, DNA, the molecule that encodes genetic information, also often finds itself twisted into coils.
Monday, July 01, 2013
Genetic Switches Play Big Role in Human Evolution
Study offers further proof that the divergence of humans from chimpanzees was profoundly influenced by mutations to DNA sequences.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Genome Offers Clues to Amphibian-Killing Fungus
A fungus that has decimated amphibians globally is much older than previously thought.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Scientists Find Clues to Some Inherited Heart Diseases
Cornell researchers have uncovered the basic cell biology that helps explain heart defects found in diseases known as laminopathies.
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Scientists Develop World's Smallest Drug Deliverer
Cornell researchers have created a pore in “Cornell Dots” – brightly glowing nanoparticles nicknamed C-Dots – that can carry medicine.
Friday, April 12, 2013
DNA Editor Named Runner-up Breakthrough of 2012
A discovery that allows life scientists to precisely edit genomes for everything from crop and livestock improvement to human gene and cell therapy was named runner-up for Science magazine's 2012 Breakthrough of the Year.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Scientific News
Exploring the Causes of Cancer
Queen's research to understand the regulation of a cell surface protein involved in cancer.
Ancient Viral Molecules Essential for Human Development
Genetic material from ancient viral infections is critical to human development, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Tardigrade's Are DNA Master Thieves
Tardigrades, nearly microscopic animals that can survive the harshest of environments, including outer space, hold the record for the animal that has the most foreign DNA.
The Secret Behind the Power of Bacterial Sex
Migration between different communities of bacteria is the key to the type of gene transfer that can lead to the spread of traits such as antibiotic resistance, according to researchers at Oxford University.
Farming’s in Their DNA
Ancient genomes reveal natural selection in action.
GMO Food Animals Should be Judged by Product, Not Process
In a world with a burgeoning demand for meat, milk and eggs, regulatory policies around the use of biotechnologies in agriculture need to be based on the safety and attributes of those foods rather than on the methods used to produce them, says a UC Davis animal scientist.
Enzyme Critical to Maintaining Telomere Length Discovered
New method expected to speed understanding of short telomere diseases and cancer.
Gene Drive Reversibility Introduces New Layer of Biosafety
Ability to introduce or reverse the spread of genetic traits through populations could one day improve pest management and disease control.
RNA-Based Drugs Give More Control Over Gene Editing
CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technique can be transiently activated and inactivated using RNA-based drugs, giving researchers more precise control in correcting and inactivating genes.
University of Glasgow Researchers Make An Impact in 60 Seconds
Early-career researchers were invited to submit an engaging, dynamic and compelling 60 second video illuminating an aspect of their research.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos