August 11, 2022 -- High levels of collagen type XII can make tumors more aggressive and trigger metastasis, according to research from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia.
The extracellular matrix, of which collagen is a component, provides structural and functional support to cells and tissues in all parts of the body and in their study, the research team catalogued how the tumor matrix changes over time. They generated a comprehensive database of these changes and zeroed in on collagen XII (Nature Communications, August 6, 2022).
They studied mouse model tumors from the earliest preclinical stages of cancer to late-stage tumors. As the tumors developed, many matrix molecules changed and the level of collagen XII increased, which seems to alter the properties of the tumor and make it more aggressive.
Using genetic engineering to manipulate collagen XII production, the scientists looked at the effects of metastasis to other organs. They found as levels of collagen XII increased, so did metastasis. The findings were confirmed in human tumor biopsies, which showed that high levels of collagen XII are associated with higher metastasis and poorer overall survival rates.
The researchers will focus on studying human samples as more research is needed in this area. These findings could open the door to new therapeutic pathways, the researchers added.