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J Mol Med (Berl). 2014 Oct;92(10):1015-23. doi: 10.1007/s00109-014-1179-5. Epub 2014 Jun 7.

Linking adiponectin and autophagy in the regulation of breast cancer metastasis.

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Department of Nutrition Sciences, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA.


Adipokines within the tumor microenvironment may play important roles in regulating the early steps of breast cancer metastasis. Adiponectin (AdipoQ) is the most abundant adipokine and exists in multiple forms: full-length multimers (fAd) and a cleaved, globular isoform (gAd). While these isoforms are observed as having distinct biological properties, nearly all investigation into AdipoQ in breast cancer has focused on the antitumor roles of fAd, while mostly ignoring gAd. However, evidence from other disease settings suggests that gAd is linked to processes known to promote metastasis. Here, we discuss key areas in which knowledge about AdipoQ in breast cancer is lacking, expressly focusing on data suggesting that gAd is elevated in the microenvironment and may act directly on invasive breast cancer cells to support their initial metastatic progression. We discuss autophagy as a potential mechanism of action for this effect. Overall, given that AdipoQ and AdipoQ receptor agonists have been proposed as therapeutic strategies, it is necessary to better understand the various functions of these regulatory molecules in metastatic breast cancer. Doing so will help ensure the most effective approaches to treating this disease, for which there remain no curative options.

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