Research ArticleCancer

NRF2 activation by antioxidant antidiabetic agents accelerates tumor metastasis

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Science Translational Medicine  13 Apr 2016:
Vol. 8, Issue 334, pp. 334ra51
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aad6095

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Adding fuel to a cancer fire

Diabetic patients are at increased risk of developing cancer. Some risks of antioxidant drugs in the setting of cancer are already known, and now, Wang et al. show that diabetic drugs with antioxidant properties may cause problems as well. The authors evaluated several antidiabetic drugs such as saxagliptin and sitagliptin, as well as α-lipoic acid, a supplement used to treat diabetic neuropathy. All of these compounds have antioxidant properties, and all accelerated metastasis in mouse models of cancer. It remains to be determined whether these findings will hold up in human patients, but it may be best to exercise caution when giving antioxidant drugs to patients at increased risk for cancer.

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