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PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e29213. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029213. Epub 2012 Jan 3.

Small interfering RNA targeted to IGF-IR delays tumor growth and induces proinflammatory cytokines in a mouse breast cancer model.

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  • 1Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) U565, Paris, France.


Insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) and its type I receptor (IGF-IR) play significant roles in tumorigenesis and in immune response. Here, we wanted to know whether an RNA interference approach targeted to IGF-IR could be used for specific antitumor immunostimulation in a breast cancer model. For that, we evaluated short interfering RNA (siRNAs) for inhibition of in vivo tumor growth and immunological stimulation in immunocompetent mice. We designed 2'-O-methyl-modified siRNAs to inhibit expression of IGF-IR in two murine breast cancer cell lines (EMT6, C4HD). Cell transfection of IGF-IR siRNAs decreased proliferation, diminished phosphorylation of downstream signaling pathway proteins, AKT and ERK, and caused a G0/G1 cell cycle block. The IGF-IR silencing also induced secretion of two proinflammatory cytokines, TNF- α and IFN-γ. When we transfected C4HD cells with siRNAs targeting IGF-IR, mammary tumor growth was strongly delayed in syngenic mice. Histology of developing tumors in mice grafted with IGF-IR siRNA treated C4HD cells revealed a low mitotic index, and infiltration of lymphocytes and polymorphonuclear neutrophils, suggesting activation of an antitumor immune response. When we used C4HD cells treated with siRNA as an immunogen, we observed an increase in delayed-type hypersensitivity and the presence of cytotoxic splenocytes against wild-type C4HD cells, indicative of evolving immune response. Our findings show that silencing IGF-IR using synthetic siRNA bearing 2'-O-methyl nucleotides may offer a new clinical approach for treatment of mammary tumors expressing IGF-IR. Interestingly, our work also suggests that crosstalk between IGF-I axis and antitumor immune response can mobilize proinflammatory cytokines.

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