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  • Author: Leena Hilakivi-Clarke x
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Open access

Fabia De Oliveira Andrade, Wei Yu, Xiyuan Zhang, Elissa Carney, Rong Hu, Robert Clarke, Kevin FitzGerald and Leena Hilakivi-Clarke

Resistance to endocrine therapy remains a clinical challenge in the treatment of estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer. We investigated if adding a traditional Asian herbal mixture consisting of 12 herbs, called Jaeumkanghwa-tang (JEKHT), to tamoxifen (TAM) therapy might prevent resistance and recurrence in the ER+ breast cancer model of 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-exposed Sprague–Dawley rats. Rats were divided into four groups treated as follows: 15 mg/kg TAM administered via diet as TAM citrate (TAM only); 500 mg/kg JEKHT administered via drinking water (JEKHT only group); TAM + JEKHT and no treatment control group. The study was replicated using two different batches of JEKHT. In both studies, a significantly higher proportion of ER+ mammary tumors responded to TAM if animals also were treated with JEKHT (experiment 1: 47% vs 65%, P = 0.015; experiment 2: 43% vs 77%, P < 0.001). The risk of local recurrence also was reduced (31% vs 12%, P = 0.002). JEKHT alone was mostly ineffective. In addition, JEKHT prevented the development of premalignant endometrial lesions in TAM-treated rats (20% in TAM only vs 0% in TAM + JEKHT). Co-treatment of antiestrogen-resistant LCC9 human breast cancer cells with 1.6 mg/mL JEKHT reversed their TAM resistance in dose–response studies in vitro. Several traditional herbal medicine preparations can exhibit anti-inflammatory properties and may increase anti-tumor immune activities in the tumor microenvironment. In the tumors of rats treated with both JEKHT and TAM, expression of Il-6 (P = 0.03), Foxp3/T regulatory cell (Treg) marker (P = 0.033) and Tgfβ1 that activates Tregs (P < 0.001) were significantly downregulated compared with TAM only group. These findings indicate that JEKHT may prevent TAM-induced evasion of tumor immune responses.

Open access

Xiyuan Zhang, Fabia de Oliveira Andrade, Hansheng Zhang, Idalia Cruz, Robert Clarke, Pankaj Gaur, Vivek Verma and Leena Hilakivi-Clarke

Over 50% of women at a childbearing age in the United States are overweight or obese, and this can adversely affect their offspring. We studied if maternal obesity-inducing high fat diet (HFD) not only increases offspring’s mammary cancer risk but also impairs response to antiestrogen tamoxifen. Female rat offspring of HFD and control diet-fed dams, in which estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) mammary tumors were induced with the carcinogen 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA), exhibited similar initial responses to antiestrogen tamoxifen. However, after tamoxifen therapy was completed, almost all (91%) tumors recurred in HFD offspring, compared with only 29% in control offspring. The increase in local mammary tumor recurrence in HFD offspring was linked to an increase in the markers of immunosuppression (Il17f, Tgfβ1, VEGFR2) in the tumor microenvironment (TME). Protein and mRNA levels of the major histocompatibility complex II (MHC-II), but not MHC-I, were reduced in the recurring DMBA tumors of HFD offspring. Further, infiltration of CD8+ effector T cells and granzyme B+ (GZMB+) cells were lower in their recurring tumors. To determine if maternal HFD can pre-program similar changes in the TME of allografted E0771 mammary tumors in offspring of syngeneic mice, flow cytometry analysis was performed. E0771 mammary tumor growth was significantly accelerated in the HFD offspring, and a reduction in the numbers of GZMB and non-significant reduction of interferon γ (IFNγ) secreting CD8+ T cells in the TME was seen. Thus, consumption of a HFD during pregnancy increases susceptibility of the female rat and mouse offspring to tumor immune suppression and mammary tumor growth and recurrence.

Free access

Allison Sumis, Katherine L Cook, Fabia O Andrade, Rong Hu, Emma Kidney, Xiyuan Zhang, Dominic Kim, Elissa Carney, Nguyen Nguyen, Wei Yu, Kerrie B Bouker, Idalia Cruz, Robert Clarke and Leena Hilakivi-Clarke

Social isolation is a strong predictor of early all-cause mortality and consistently increases breast cancer risk in both women and animal models. Because social isolation increases body weight, we compared its effects to those caused by a consumption of obesity-inducing diet (OID) in C57BL/6 mice. Social isolation and OID impaired insulin and glucose sensitivity. In socially isolated, OID-fed mice (I-OID), insulin resistance was linked to reduced Pparg expression and increased neuropeptide Y levels, but in group-housed OID fed mice (G-OID), it was linked to increased leptin and reduced adiponectin levels, indicating that the pathways leading to insulin resistance are different. Carcinogen-induced mammary tumorigenesis was significantly higher in I-OID mice than in the other groups, but cancer risk was also increased in socially isolated, control diet-fed mice (I-C) and G-OID mice compared with that in controls. Unfolded protein response (UPR) signaling (GRP78; IRE1) was upregulated in the mammary glands of OID-fed mice, but not in control diet-fed, socially isolated I-C mice. In contrast, expression of BECLIN1, ATG7 and LC3II were increased, and p62 was downregulated by social isolation, indicating increased autophagy. In the mammary glands of socially isolated mice, but not in G-OID mice, mRNA expressions of p53 and the p53-regulated autophagy inducer Dram1 were upregulated, and nuclear p53 staining was strong. Our findings further indicated that autophagy and tumorigenesis were not increased in Atg7+/− mice kept in social isolation and fed OID. Thus, social isolation may increase breast cancer risk by inducing autophagy, independent of changes in body weight.