CHIP is a condition where blood cells accumulate genetic mutations, increasing the risk of developing blood cancer. Although CHIP is common in aging, the risk factors that contribute to the condition are poorly understood.
“Our study’s results showed being overweight or obese may be a risk factor for CHIP because obesity causes inflammation in the body and changes the bone marrow where blood cells are made. This increases a person’s risk for blood cancer and cardiovascular disease,” said lead author of the published study Santhosh Pasupuleti, PhD, assistant research professor of pediatrics at the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research and a researcher at the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center. “The significance of our findings offers potential new avenues for treatment in individuals with CHIP and obesity.”
The researchers analyzed data from more than 47,000 individuals with CHIP and found 5.8 percent of the population was associated with a significant increase in waist-to-hip ratio. Additionally, mice models with obesity and CHIP used in the study were observed to have mutated blood cells grow more quickly. Thus, their work strongly supports the notion that finding ways to maintain a healthy weight and keeping one’s level of systemic inflammation in check may lower the risk of developing blood cancer with age.
“Our current and future studies are focused on identifying therapeutic strategies to mitigate the expansion and rapid growth of CHIP-bearing mutated blood cells,” said Reuben Kapur, PhD, director of the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research, co-program leader of Hematopoiesis and Hematologic Malignancies at the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center, and co-author of the study. “Surprisingly, our initial findings suggest that common medications used for treating blood pressure and diabetes may play a role in regulating the growth of mutated blood cells. Additional future studies will focus on examining individuals who are on these types of medications and their long-term risks of developing blood cancer.”
As part of their study, the investigators also tested different drug combinations to target CHIP mutant cells and find potential therapeutic approaches for the condition. Overall, the research suggests that a better understanding of the relationship between CHIP and obesity may help identify individuals at risk of developing diseases like leukemia and find methods for future treatments.
The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
Jackie supports the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research at IU School of Medicine. As communications generalist, Jackie helps spread the word about the Wells Center's commitment to improving the health of children in Indiana and beyond through basic and translational research. She has several years of experience in non-profit and academic marketing and communications.