There is growing evidence for the role of stress in cardiovascular pathologies, cancer, and other diseases. Work from our group and others has shown that psychological states such as chronic stress or depression may accelerate growth of existing tumors and promote chemoresistance. Importantly, a significant number of ovarian cancer patients are clinically depressed or lack social support. These emotional states have been linked to sustained activation of the sympathetic nervous system and decreased survival. Our group has shown that activation of the sympathetic nervous system leads to increased levels of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the tumor microenvironment and ovarian cancer progression by inducing pro-tumoral pathways. Our preliminary data in cancer cell lines suggest that norepinephrine significantly changes the expression of genes implicated in ovarian cancer and attenuates cisplatin-induced ovarian cancer cell apoptosis. Given the importance of BRCA1-regulated DNA repair mechanisms in cisplatin response, adrenergic regulation of BRCA1 expression in tumors may also impact ovarian cancer progression and resistance to platinum-based therapy. However, the underlying mechanisms behind these observations are not completely understood. In this pilot we will test this hypothesis by achieving the following aims: 1) To dissect the effects of adrenergic signaling in ovarian cancer cells and 2) To explore the association between perceived stress and depressive symptomatology with tumor catecholamines, DNA damage, and BRCA1 protein expression. This proposal provides a unique approach to explore the link between stress and ovarian cancer outcomes at both the tumor level and the patient level. This proposal will provide the groundwork for additional research on precision medicine by linking psychological risk factors with underlying tumor biology.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Specialized Center--Cooperative Agreements (U54)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZCA1)
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Ponce School of Medicine
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