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Exp Ther Med. 2017 May;13(5):2235-2246. doi: 10.3892/etm.2017.4291. Epub 2017 Mar 30.

Leptin is overexpressed in the tumor microenvironment of obese patients with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer.

Author information

1
Department of Zoology, Cancer Biology Research Laboratory (CBRL), Faculty of Science, Cairo University, Giza 12613, Egypt.
2
Department of General Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University, Cairo 11566, Egypt.

Abstract

The present study aimed to investigate the potential role of leptin in the progression of breast cancer and the associated cell proliferation signalling pathway(s). A total of 44 female patients diagnosed with breast cancer and 24 healthy donors from Ain Shams University Hospitals (Cairo, Egypt) were enrolled in the present study. The present study assessed leptin expression in breast cancer tissues at the gene and protein level using reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) and immunohistochemistry. The results demonstrate that the expression of leptin was significantly higher in tissue of breast cancer samples from obese patients than overweight and control samples (P<0.001). ELISA results indicated a significant increase (P<0.001) of leptin expression in obese patients. To investigate whether there is any difference in leptin expression between the peripheral and tumor microenvironment blood of patients with breast cancer, the concentration of leptin was assessed in plasma from both using ELISA assays. The results demonstrated a statistically significant increase in the level of leptin in plasma samples from the tumor microenvironment of obese patients with estrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer, compared with peripheral plasma samples. Furthermore, the leptin gene was overexpressed in obese ER+ breast cancer tissue. RT-qPCR was also performed to assess the expression of genes involved in proliferation pathways including leptin receptor (LEPR), aromatase, mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) and signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 (STAT3). A positive association between leptin expression, LEPR, aromatase, MAPK and STAT3 was detected in tissue samples of patients with breast cancer. The current study concluded that leptin may enhance breast cancer progression by inducing the expression of JAK/STAT3, ERK1/2 and estrogen pathways in obese patients breast cancer.

KEYWORDS:

breast cancer; estrogen receptor; expression; leptin; obesity; tumor microenvironment

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