Purification and characterisation of two cancer cachexia factors

  • Trudi McDevitt

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Cachexia is a wasting phenomenon that often accompanies malignant disease. Its
manifestation is associated with shortened survival and reduced responsiveness to anti-tumour therapy and as yet there is no established, effective amelioratory treatment.
The MAC 16 model of cancer cachexia has been shown by many studies to
closely mirror the human condition. Thus, cachexia is mediated by the presence of a small, slow-growing solid tumour that is mainly resistant to chemotherapy. In addition, the condition is largely attributable to aberrations in metabolic processes, while weight loss due to anorexia is negligible. Cachexia induced by the MAC 16 tumour, has been shown to be mediated by the production of tumour-derived circulatory catabolic factors, and the further elucidation of the structure of these molecules contributes towards the main content of this report. Thus, a factor with in vitro lipid-mobilising activity has been purified from the MAC 16 tumour, and has been found to have similarities to tumour-derived lipolytic factors published to date. Further work demonstrated that this factor was also purifiable from the urine of a patient with pancreatic cancer, and that it was capable of inducing weight loss in non tumour-bearing mice. Sequence analysis of the homogeneous material revealed an identity to Zn-α-2-glycoprotein, the significance of which is discussed. An additional factor, first detected as a result of its specific reactivity with a monoclonal antibody produced by fusion of splenocytes from MAC 16 tumour-bearing mice with mouse BALB/c myeloma cells, was identified as a co-purificant during studies to isolate the lipolytic factor. Subsequent purification of this material to homogeneity resulted in the determination of 18 of the N-terminal amino acids and revealed the highly glycosylated nature of its structure. Thus, this material (P24) was found to have an apparent molecular mass of 24kD of which 2kD was due to protein, while the remainder (92%) was due to the presence of carbohydrate groups. Sequence analysis of the protein core of P24 revealed an identity with Streptococcal pre-absorbing antigen (PA-Ag) in 11 of the amino acids, and the significance of this is discussed. P24 was shown to induce muscle protein breakdown in vitro and to induce cachexia in vivo, as measured by the depletion of fat (29%) and muscle (14%) tissue in the absence of a reduction of food and water intake. Further studies revealed that the same material was purifiable from the urine of patients with pancreatic cancer and was found to be detectable in the urine of cancer patients with weight loss greater than l.Skg/month. Thus, cachexia
induced by the MAC 16 tumour in mice and by malignant disease in humans may be induced by similar mediators.
Attempts to isolate the gene for P24 using information provided by the N-terminal protein sequence were unsuccessful. This was probably due to the low abundance o[ the material, as determined by protein purification studies; and the nature of the amino acids of the N-terminal sequence, which conferred a high degree o[ degeneracy to the oligonucleotides designed for the polymerase chain reaction.
Date of Award1996
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMichael J Tisdale (Supervisor)


  • Purification
  • characterisation
  • cancer cachexia factors

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