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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2011 Apr;126(2):373-84. doi: 10.1007/s10549-010-0921-0. Epub 2010 May 13.

Insulin like growth factor binding protein-7 reduces growth of human breast cancer cells and xenografted tumors.

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  • 1Division of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Sunnybrook Research Institute, Toronto, ON, Canada.


Previously, we have shown that insulin-like growth factor binding protein-7 (IGFBP-7) expression is inversely correlated with disease progression in breast cancer and is associated with poor outcome. To further investigate the role of IGFBP-7 in the growth and metastatic behavior of breast cancer, primary breast tumors and metastatic tumors derived from the same patients were analyzed for IGFBP-7 expression. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that IGFBP-7 is downregulated in half of the human metastatic breast tumors tested. IGFBP-7 has been linked to suppression of oncogenic pathways and can directly restore cellular senescence in melanomas, leading to their regression. It is possible that breast tumors with metastatic potential have escaped from IGFBP-7-induced suppression by its down-regulation. Twenty-two human primary breast tumor specimens were transplanted into human-bone NOD/SCID mice. One of the two triple negative primary breast tumors was serially xenotransplanted more than five times. Each serial transplant resulted in increased tumor take and rate of growth. Expression of IGFBP-7 was downregulated upon each serial implantation. To investigate the role of IGFBP-7 in breast tumor suppression, IGFBP-7 was overexpressed in the triple negative MDA-MB-468 human breast cancer line by stable transfection of a pSec-tag2-IGFBP-7 vector. The parental MDA-MB-468 breast cancer cells expressed extremely low levels of endogenous IGFBP-7. The production of IGFBP-7 protein by the MDA-MB-468 cells stably transfected with IGFBP-7 was confirmed by immunoblotting with anti-IGFBP-7 antibody. Ectopic overexpression of IGFBP-7 significantly reduced the growth of the IGFBP-7 transfected MDA-MB-468 cells compared to the parental MDA-MB-468 cells. We also assessed the role of IGFBP-7 on cell migration, a key determinant of malignant progression and metastasis. When parental MDA-MB-468 cells were treated with various amounts of conditioned medium derived from the IGFBP-7 overexpressing cell line, a significant difference in cell migration rate was observed between untreated and treated cells. IGFBP-7 strongly suppressed the phosphorylation of the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) ERK-1/2, suggesting that IGFBP-7 mediates its anti-proliferative effects through negative feedback signaling. Levels of phospho-ERK-1/2 were higher in the parental MDA-MB-468 than in IGFBP-7-expressing cells derived from it. When injected subcutaneously into NOD/SCID mice, the increased expression of IGFBP-7 in the MDA-MB-468 transfected cells reduced the rate of tumor growth in comparison to the parental MDA-MB-468 controls. These results suggest that the growth of breast cancer could be prevented by the forced expression of IGFBP-7 protein.

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