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Increased expression of leptin and the leptin receptor as a marker of breast cancer progression: possible role of obesity-related stimuli

  • Autori: Garofalo, C.; Koda, M.; Cascio, S.; Sulkowska, M.; KANCZUGA KODA, L.; Golaszewska, J.; Russo, A.; Sulkowski, S.; Surmacz, E.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2006
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • OA Link:


PURPOSE: Recent in vitro studies suggested that the autocrine leptin loop might contribute to breast cancer development by enhancing cell growth and survival. To evaluate whether the leptin system could become a target in breast cancer therapy, we examined the expression of leptin and its receptor (ObR) in primary and metastatic breast cancer and noncancer mammary epithelium. We also studied whether the expression of leptin/ObR in breast cancer can be induced by obesity-related stimuli, such as elevated levels of insulin, insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), estradiol, or hypoxic conditions. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: The expression of leptin and ObR was examined by immunohistochemistry in 148 primary breast cancers and 66 breast cancer metastases as well as in 90 benign mammary lesions. The effects of insulin, IGF-I, estradiol, and hypoxia on leptin and ObR mRNA expression were assessed by reverse transcription-PCR in MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell lines. RESULTS: Leptin and ObR were significantly overexpressed in primary and metastatic breast cancer relative to noncancer tissues. In primary tumors, leptin positively correlated with ObR, and both biomarkers were most abundant in G3 tumors. The expression of leptin mRNA was enhanced by insulin and hypoxia in MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells, whereas IGF-I and estradiol stimulated leptin mRNA only in MCF-7 cells. ObR mRNA was induced by insulin, IGF-I, and estradiol in MCF-7 cells and by insulin and hypoxia in MDA-MB-231 cells. CONCLUSIONS: Leptin and ObR are overexpressed in breast cancer, possibly due to hypoxia and/or overexposure of cells to insulin, IGF-I, and/or estradiol.