The development of the mammary gland requires the coordinated expression of hormones and growth factors. Likewise, some transformed breast cells continue to respond to these same extracellular signals. Thus, understanding the mechanisms that control normal development of tissues can lead to new therapeutic targets. The insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system plays an important role in the normal development and function of the mammary gland. Accumulating evidence suggests that the IGFs are also key regulators of the malignant phenotype. The IGFs stimulate proliferation, promote survival, and enhance metastatic potential of breast cancer cells. Although multiple receptors for the IGFs have been identified, the IGFs primarily exert their biologic effects through ligation of the type I IGF receptor tyrosine kinase (IGF1R). IGF binding to the IGF1R initiates an intracellular signaling cascade that leads to changes in gene expression and cell biology. This review will focus on the evidence that the IGF1R is a relevant treatment target in breast cancer.
- Breast cancer
- Insulin-like growth factor receptor
- Tyrosine kinase