In recent years several research groups have found evidence, in animal models, that controlled fasting can help to enhance the effects of chemotherapy in some types of cancer, and reduce side effects. This is one of the areas of study of the Metabolic Syndrome group at IMDEA Alimentación, which has now also examined whether the sex of the animals has any influence on the effects of combining fasting and chemotherapy in cancer treatment.

In this new work, involving researchers from the Spanish National Cancer Research Center (CNIO) and published inCancer Communications, tests were performed on male and female mice with melanoma, and it was found that the effect of the combination of fasting and chemotherapy on the immune system of the animals is more pronounced in males than in females.

This discovery highlights the relevance of considering sex as a crucial factor in the design of personalized therapeutic strategies to treat cancer.

The study, led by Pablo José Fernández-Marcos, shows, in particular, that the combination of fasting and chemotherapy increases the presence of Natural Killer and Natural Killer T cells in melanoma, and CD8 lymphocytes in colorectal adenocarcinoma.

CNIO co-authors are Lola Martínez, from the Flow Cytometry Core Unit, and Alejo Efeyan, head of the Metabolism and Cell Signalling Group.

Researchers from the Severo Ochoa Molecular Biology Center (CBM) and the San Pablo CEU University also participated in the study. Funded mostly by Spanish public entities, this research is also financially supported by the Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC).

Image: Fluorescence microscopy visualization of melanoma cells. Credit: CNIO

Reference article: Andrés Pastor-Fernández, Manuel Montero Gómez de las Heras, José Ignacio Escrig-Larena, Marta Barradas, Cristina Pantoja, Adrián Plaza, José Luis López-Aceituno, Esther Durán, Alejo Efeyan, Maria Mittelbrunn, Lola Martínez, Pablo José Fernández-Marcos. Sexual dimorphism in the antitumor immune responses elicited by the combination of fasting and chemotherapy. Cancer Communications. 2024; 1–6.

https://doi.org/10.1002/cac2.12535

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