Tumour-bearing mice spontaneously lose weight 8–9 weeks after implantation of a human hypernephroma, in spite of a normal food intake. Resting oxygen consumption was up to 40% higher in these animals than in sham-operated controls, but was significantly reduced by 8-adrenergic blockade with propranolol in the former group. The injection of noradrenaline caused a marked stimulation of the metabolic rate in all the animals, but the greatest response was seen in the cachectic mice. The brown-adipose-tissue mass was similar for both groups, but guanosine diphosphate binding to brownadipose-tissue mitochondria (an index of thermogenic capacity) was significantly increased in turnout-bearing mice, and the injection of noradrenaline 1 h prior to sacrifice caused the greatest stimulation of binding in the cachectic group. These data suggest that the rapid weight loss of tumour-bearing animals may be due to a high metabolic rate which results from sympathetic stimulation of brown-adipose-tissue metabolism. The relevance of these results to cancer-induced cachexia in man is discussed.

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