In a new study, researchers found that foods high in leucine may fuel breast cancer’s drug resistance.
The finding reveals a potential new method to reduce drug resistance in breast cancer patients.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers at the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).
Leucine is one of the 20 amino acids, which build proteins in our body.
It is among the nine essential amino acids that have to be obtained from food. Foods high in leucine include beef, chicken, pork and fish.
Breast cancer is a serious disease in the United States. About one in eight women in will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
The tumor often relies on the hormone estrogen to grow. One available cancer drug is tamoxifen, which blocks the hormone’s effect on the tumor.
However, many tumors eventually become resistant to tamoxifen, which makes cancer recur or metastasize.
In the current study, the team has discovered a link between amino acid leucine in diet and the development of drug resistance in breast cancer.
They tested how manipulating leucine in cells cultured in a dish would affect the growth of human-derived breast cancer cells.
The found that decreasing leucine levels suppressed breast cancer cells’ division while increasing leucine enhanced cancer growth.
The finding suggests that a low-leucine diet may be beneficial for patients with breast cancer.
It is in line with previous research that decreasing overall leucine intake could lead to better metabolic health.
It also supports the finding that decreasing the amount of total protein in the diet could improve metabolic health and longevity.
The team suggests that the research does not imply that animal proteins will enhance the growth of breast cancer cells.
It just shows that lowering leucine levels in diet may be beneficial for patients diagnosed with breast cancer.
In the future, the team will test whether a leucine restricted diet can prevent growth or enhance response to therapy for breast cancer cells.
The leader of the study is Senthil K. Muthuswamy, Ph.D.
The study is published in the journal Nature.
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