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Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2003 Jun;228(6):689-96.

Zinc accumulation in N-methyl-N-nitrosourea-induced rat mammary tumors is accompanied by an altered expression of ZnT-1 and metallothionein.

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1
Food, Nutrition, and Health Program, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6T 1Z4.

Abstract

Zinc is essential for cell proliferation. Several human studies have shown that in breast cancer tissues, zinc concentration expressed on a per tissue weight basis is higher than that in normal breast tissues. However, the mechanisms involved are unknown. N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (MNU)-induced rat mammary tumorigenesis is one of the most widely used rodent mammary tumorigenesis models for studying human breast cancer due to their similarities in hormone dependency, pathogenesis, histological classification, and immunocytochemical markers. This study was to establish if there was an accumulation of zinc in MNU-induced rat mammary tumors and, if there was, to explore the possible mechanisms involved. Sprague-Dawley rats were sham-treated or MNU-treated (50 mg/kg; n = 12) for 100 days. In MNU-induced mammary tumors (mammary tumors), zinc concentration expressed on a per dry weight basis was 12 times of that in normal mammary glands. Moreover, the mRNA level of ZnT-1 (a transporter involved in zinc efflux) in mammary tumors was reduced by 55% as compared with that in normal mammary glands. The mRNA level of Nramp2 (a divalent cation importer) and ZnT-4 (another transporter involved in zinc efflux) was unaffected by MNU-induced mammary tumorigenesis. The mRNA and protein levels of metallothionein (a putative zinc storage protein) in mammary tumors were 1.3 and 3.5 times of that in normal mammary glands, respectively. Collectively, our observations showed that zinc is accumulated in MNU-induced rat mammary tumors and this accumulation is accompanied by an altered expression of ZnT-1 and metallothionein, suggesting that zinc homeostasis might be altered in MNU-induced rat mammary tumorigenesis. Because zinc is essential to cell proliferation and cell proliferation is increased in mammary tumors, zinc accumulation is likely a part of an integrated effort to ensure sufficient zinc supply to sustain tumor growth.

PMID:
12773700
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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