Identification of insulin-like growth factor binding proteins in breast cancer cells

Douglas Yee, Roberto E. Favoni, Marc E. Lippman, David R. Powell

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81 Scopus citations


The insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) are potent mitogens for some breast cancer cell lines. Recent evidence suggests that IGF-induced mitogenesis may be influenced by specific IGF binding proteins (IGFBPs). In this study, breast cancer cell lines were examined for IGFBP protein and mRNA expression. Western ligand blot examination of conditioned media from breast cancer cell lines suggested that the IGFBP protein expression was heterogeneous. Although all breast cancer cell lines expressed a 24kDa binding protein, MCF-7, an estrogen receptor positive (ER+) cell line, expressed a IGFBP compatible with reported sizes for IGFBP-2. Estrogen receptor negative (ER-) cells (MDA-MD-231, Hs578T) secreted IGFBPs consistent with sizes reported for IGFBP-1 and -3. Examination of mRNA expression supported these findings; IGFBP-2 was seen in all (4/4) ER+ cell lines while high levels of IGFBP-3 were found in ER- cell lines (3/5), although lower levels of IGFBP-3 mRNA could be found in some ER+ cell lines. In MCF-7 cells, steady state levels of IGFBP-3 mRNA were decreased by estradiol, while IGFBP-2 mRNA levels were slightly increased. These data suggest that IGFBP expression by breast cancer cells is heterogeneous, that the pattern of IGFBP expression is different between ER+ and ER- cell lines, and that in ER+ cells IGFBP mRNA may be regulated by estrogens. Thus, the IGFBPs may play an important role in mediating the mitogenic response of breast cancer cells to the IGFs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-10
Number of pages8
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1991


  • estradiol stimulation
  • human breast cancer cells
  • insulin-like growth factor binding proteins
  • insulin-like growth factors


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