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Toxicol Sci. 2006 Jan;89(1):83-92. Epub 2005 Oct 19.

Hexachlorobenzene is a tumor co-carcinogen and induces alterations in insulin-growth factors signaling pathway in the rat mammary gland.

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Departamento de Bioquímica Humana, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Paraguay 2155, 5to piso, Buenos Aires, CP 1121, Argentina.


Hexachlorobenzene (HCB) is a widespread environmental pollutant. Controversy still exists about the breast carcinogenic properties of organochlorines in humans. The ligands, receptors, and related signaling proteins of the insulin growth factor family are involved in the regulation of breast-cancer cell growth. The aims of this study were to determine: (1) whether HCB is co-carcinogenic in a medium term assay of N-nitroso N-methylurea (NMU)-induced mammary tumors in rats; (2) the effect of HCB on insulin receptor (IR), insulin-like growth factor-I receptor (IGF-IR) and insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1) levels and on IRS-1 phosphorylation; (3) microsomal and cytosolic Protein Tyrosine Kinase (PTK) activities in mammary glands and NMU-induced tumors. Sprague Dawley rats were injected with 50 mg/kg body weight of NMU at 50, 80, and 110 days old. HCB (100 mg/kg body weight) was administered three times a week from 65 to 110 days of age. Rats were separated in four groups: control, NMU, HCB, and NMU-HCB. HCB alone did not induce tumor development. Parameters of tumor development were increased in NMU-HCB compared to NMU rats. A higher cellular undifferentiation was observed in NMU-HCB tumors. IR, IGF-IR, and IRS-1 levels were higher in HCB than in controls. Conversely IGF-IR levels decreased in NMU-HCB vs. NMU group. The IRS-1 phosphorylation increased in HCB rats; however, it decreased in NMU-HCB vs. NMU. HCB decreased microsomal PTK activity in tumors. This study showed for the first time that HCB is a co-carcinogenic agent in NMU-induced mammary tumors in rats. Our results suggest that the IR and/or IGF-IR signaling pathway may be involved in the mechanism of action of HCB.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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