Cancer And Glutamate

How cancer cells invade tissues has been the focus of much research. Cancer cells can occur in various tissues throughout the body and involves abnormal metabolic activity with the ability to invade other cells.  Aberrant glutamatergic signaling (signaling involving glutamate) can lead to tumorigenesis and is likely the mechanism leading to many cancers[i],[ii],[iii] With a release of excess glutamate from cancer cells, nearby cells will either die or be transformed to participate in increased glutamatergic signaling through its increase in glutamate receptor expression. In this way, cancer cells invade normal tissues and transform normal cell signaling.[iv]
Inflammation is mediated in part through glutamatergic signaling.  At elevated levels, glutamate can initiate inflammation through activation of glial cells, a type of nerve cell.[v] The glial cells then participate in cascading this glutamate stress signal throughout the body, particularly the brain, leading to chronic inflammation if glutamate levels remain elevated.  Chronic inflammation leads to increased risk of cancer[vi] and a major under appreciated link is the role glutamate plays in these pathways.
What is the level of glutamate in your diet?  Reduce your consumption of free glutamate, and reduce the risk of inflammation that spirals your health out of control.
This post is dedicated to my mom.

[i] Teh, Jessica LF, and Suzie Chen. “.” Pigment cell & melanoma research 25.3 (2012): 331-342.
[ii] Teh, Jessica LF, and Suzie Chen. “Glutamatergic signaling in cellular transformation.” Pigment cell & melanoma research 25.3 (2012): 331-342.
[iii] Prickett, Todd D., and Yardena Samuels. “Molecular pathways: dysregulated glutamatergic signaling pathways in cancer.” Clinical cancer research 18.16 (2012): 4240-4246.
[iv] Seidlitz, Eric P., et al. “Cancer cell lines release glutamate into the extracellular environment.” Clinical & experimental metastasis 26.7 (2009): 781-787.
[v] McNally, Leah, Zubin Bhagwagar, and Jonas Hannestad. “Inflammation, glutamate, and glia in depression: a literature review.” CNS Spectrums: The International Journal of Neuropsychiatric Medicine 13.6 (2008).
[vi] Dalgleish, Angus G., and Ken O’Byrne. “Inflammation and Cancer.” The Link Between Inflammation and Cancer. Springer US, 2006. 1-38.