Insulin-like growth factors I and II (IGF-I and IGF-II) are potent mitogens for some human breast cancer cell lines, and expression of IGF-II mRNA in the oestrogen receptor-positive (ER+) and oestradiol (E2) stimulated human breast cancer cell line T47D is increased by E2, suggesting a role for IGF-II in the mitogenic response to E2. Very little information is available from the literature on the relation between growth inhibition by endocrine therapy and cellular production of IGF-II. Here we report on the effect of E2 and tamoxifen (TAM) on IGF-II mRNA and protein expression in the ER + T61 human breast cancer xenograft. Growth of the T61 tumour is inhibited by treatment with E2 and TAM. Ribonuclease (RNAse) protection assays with human- and mouse-specific IGF-II antisense probes were used to study the regulation of IGF-II mRNA by E2 and TAM in the tumour. IGF-II protein expression was studied by radioimmunoassay. Untreated T61 tumours have a high baseline expression of IGF-II mRNA. TAM treatment of T61 tumours, which results in inhibition of tumour growth without tumour regression, reduced IGF-II mRNA expression approximately 10-fold after 48 h of treatment. E2 treatment of T61 tumours, which results in tumour regression, was accompanied by a more pronounced decrease in IGF-II mRNA expression in the tumour cells; 96 h after initiation of E2 treatment, there was almost no detectable IGF-II mRNA. Analyses of IGF-II protein showed that both treatments significantly reduced the concentration of IGF-II protein in the tumours. This down-regulation was found to be specific for IGF-II, since analyses of the effect of E2 on the expression of IGF-I mRNA, 36B4 mRNA, transforming growth factor α(TGF-α) mRNA, and epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor mRNA in T61 tumours did not reveal any down-regulation. To further study the relation between inhibition of tumour growth and down-regulation of IGF-II, we exposed T61 tumours to a monoclonal antibody, α-IR3, which abolishes the physiological effect of IGF-I and IGF-II by blocking the binding of both growth factors to the type I IGF receptor. Treatment with α-IR3 resulted in inhibition of tumour growth during treatment. Thus, blockade of the type I IGF receptor and down-regulation of IGF-II by E2 and TAM resulted in growth inhibition, suggesting that IGF-II expression is correlated to T61 tumour growth, and that specific down-regulation of IGF-II by E2 and TAM could be involved in inhibition of T61 breast tumour growth by these two types of endocrine therapy.
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Acknowledgements--This study was supported by grants from the Danish Cancer Society, the Danish Medical Research Council, the Lundbeck Foundation and Lovens Kemiske Fabrik. All animal studies were conducted in accord with the principles and procedures outlined in "Guidelines for Care and Use of Experimental Animals".