JOURNAL ARTICLE

Antiestrogen-resistant human breast cancer cells require activated protein kinase B/Akt for growth

T Frogne, J S Jepsen, S S Larsen, C K Fog, B L Brockdorff, A E Lykkesfeldt
Endocrine-related Cancer 2005, 12 (3): 599-614
16172194
Development of acquired resistance to antiestrogens is a major clinical problem in endocrine treatment of breast cancer patients. The IGF system plays a profound role in many cancer types, including breast cancer. Thus, overexpression and/or constitutive activation of the IGF-I receptor (IGF-IR) or different components of the IGF-IR signaling pathway have been reported to render breast cancer cells less estrogen dependent and capable of sustaining cell proliferation in the presence of antiestrogens. In this study, growth of the antiestrogen-sensitive human breast cancer cell line MCF-7 was inhibited by treatment with IGF-IR-neutralizing antibodies. In contrast, IGF-IR-neutralizing antibodies had no effect on growth of two different antiestrogen-resistant MCF-7 sublines. A panel of antiestrogen-resistant cell lines was investigated for expression of IGF-IR and either undetectable or severely reduced IGF-IR levels were observed. No increase in insulin receptor substrate 1 (IRS-1) or total PKB/Akt (Akt) was detected in the resistant cell lines. However, a significant increase in phosphorylated Akt (pAkt) was found in four of six antiestrogen-resistant cell lines. Overexpression of pAkt was associated with increased Akt kinase activity in both a tamoxifen- and an ICI 182,780-resistant cell line. Inhibition of Akt phosphorylation by the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K) inhibitor wortmannin or the Akt inhibitor SH-6 (structurally modified phosphatidyl inositol ether liquid analog PIA 6) resulted in a more pronounced growth inhibitory effect on the antiestrogen-resistant cells compared with the parental cells, suggesting that signaling via Akt is required for antiestrogen-resistant cell growth in at least a subset of our antiestrogen-resistant cell lines. PTEN expression and activity was not decreased in cell lines overexpressing pAkt. Our data demonstrate that Akt is a target for treatment of antiestrogen-resistant breast cancer cell lines and we suggest that antiestrogen-resistant breast cancer patients may benefit from treatment targeted to inhibit Akt signaling.

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