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Oncogene. 2003 Aug 28;22(36):5592-601.

Nerve growth factor overexpression and autocrine loop in breast cancer cells.

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UPRES-EA-1033, Biologie du Développement, Université des Sciences et Technologies de Lille, IFR-118, Batiment SN3, 59655 Villeneuve d'Ascq, France.


We show here that nerve growth factor (NGF), the canonical neurotrophic factor, is synthesized and released by breast cancer cells. High levels of NGF transcript and protein were detected in breast cancer cells by reverse transcription-PCR, Western blotting, ELISA assay and immunohistochemistry. Conversely, NGF production could not be detected in normal breast epithelial cells at either the transcriptional or protein level. Confocal analysis indicated the presence of NGF within classical secretion vesicles. Breast cancer cell-produced NGF was biologically active, as demonstrated by its ability to induce the neuronal differentiation of embryonic neural precursor cells. Importantly, the constitutive growth of breast cancer cells was strongly inhibited by either NGF-neutralizing antibodies or K-252a, a pharmacological inhibitor of NGF receptor TrkA, indicating the existence of an NGF autocrine loop. Together, our data demonstrate the physiological relevance of NGF in breast cancer and its potential interest as a marker and therapeutic target.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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