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Cancer Res. 2001 May 1;61(9):3561-5.

Erythropoietin and erythropoietin receptor expression in human cancer.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Erythropoietin (EPO) stimulates the growth of erythroblasts in the bone marrow (C. Lacombe and P. Mayeux, NEPHROL: DIAL: TRANSPLANT:, 14 (SUPPL: 2): 22-28, 1999). We report basal and hypoxia-stimulated expression of EPO and its receptor, EPOR, in human breast cancer cells, and we demonstrate EPO-stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation and the proliferation of these cells in vitro. In 50 clinical specimens of breast carcinoma, we report high levels of EPO and EPOR associated with malignant cells and tumor vasculature but not with normal breast, benign papilloma, or fibrocystic tissue. Hypoxic tumor regions display the highest levels of EPO and EPOR expression. Enhanced EPO signaling may contribute to the promotion of human cancer by tissue hypoxia.

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