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Cancer Biol Ther. 2014 Jan;15(1):89-98. doi: 10.4161/cbt.26717. Epub 2013 Oct 22.

Autocrine/paracrine erythropoietin regulates migration and invasion potential and the stemness of human breast cancer cells.

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Department of Experimental Therapeutics; The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; Houston, TX USA.


Recent studies suggest that erythropoietin (EPO) has pleiotropic effects in several cell types in addition to hematopoietic cells; however, the role of EPO-mediated cell signaling in nonhematopoietic cells, including in cancer cells, remains controversial. Here, we report our findings of autocrine/paracrine production of EPO by breast cancer cells and its functional significance. We detected a significant level of autocrine/paracrine EPO in the conditioned medium from the culture of SKBR3 breast cancer cells, particularly when the cells were cultured in hypoxia. Through knockdown of EPO and EPO receptor expression and experimental elevation of EPO receptor expression in SKBR3 breast cancer cells, we demonstrated novel roles of autocrine/paracrine EPO-mediated cell signaling in regulating migration and invasion potential and stemness-like properties of breast cancer cells.


autocrine/paracrine loop; breast cancer; erythropoietin; migration and invasion; stemness

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