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


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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