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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2004 Sep;87(1):33-44.

Overexpression of Bcl-xL in human breast cancer cells enhances organ-selective lymph node metastasis.

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1
Centre d'Oncologia Molecular, Institut de Recerca Oncológica, Hospital Duran i Reynals, Ciutat Sanitaria i Universitaria de Bellvitge, Barcelona, Spain.

Abstract

Lymph node metastasis are the first prognostic factor in breast cancer diagnosis and an early event in metastatic spread. To assess the role of anti-apoptotic proteins in lymph node metastatic progression of human breast cancer cells we analyzed the metastatic activity of MDA-MB-435 cells transfected with the Bcl-xL gene, after orthotopic inoculation in Nude Balb/c and in SCID mice. The luciferase gene was introduced by permanent transfection in the 435/Bcl-xL and 435/Neo cells and used as a tumor marker to measure the number of tumor cells lodged in lymph nodes. We found that 435/Bcl-xL tumor cells had enhanced organ-specific metastatic activity, preferentially lodging in peripheral lymph nodes, where at 45 days post-implantation we found 7 x 10(6) +/- 6 x 10(6) 435/Bcl-xL.luc and 2 +/- 1.1 435/Neo.luc luciferase tagged tumor cell equivalents (TCEs). Metastases were abrogated in mice in which orthotopic tumors were induced with 435/Bcl-xL-antisense cells. Additionally, in vitro experiments show that in 435 cells Bcl-xL-antisense can override the emergence of resistance to apoptosis induced by TNF- alpha and TGF- beta in cells overexpressing Bcl-xL, increasing also adhesion to extracellular matrix proteins. These results point to the relevance of Bcl-xL overexpression inducing lymph node metastasis of breast cancer cells, and to the value of this gene as a target for therapy in order to prevent metastasis.

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