Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha in the human breast cancer cell lines MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231

Mol Carcinog. 2002 Aug;34(4):165-71. doi: 10.1002/mc.10061.


Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) alpha is a ligand-activated transcription factor that has been linked with rodent hepatocarcinogenesis. It has been suggested that PPARalpha mRNA expression levels are an important determinant of rodent hepatic tumorigenicity. Previous work in rat mammary gland epithelial cells showed significantly increased PPARalpha mRNA expression in carcinomas, suggesting the possible role of this isoform in rodent mammary gland carcinogenesis. In this study we sought to determine whether PPARalpha is expressed and dynamically regulated in human breast cancer MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells. Having established the presence of PPARalpha in both cell types, we then examined the consequence of PPARalpha activation, by its ligands Wy-14,643 and clofibrate, on proliferation. With real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, we showed that PPARalpha mRNA was dynamically regulated in MDA-MB-231 cells and that PPARalpha activation significantly increased proliferation of the cell line. In contrast, PPARalpha expression in MCF-7 cells did not change with proliferation during culture and was present at significantly lower levels than in MDA-MB-231 cells. However, PPARalpha ligand activation still significantly increased the proliferation of MCF-7 cells. The promotion of proliferation in breast cancer cell lines following PPARalpha activation was in stark contrast to the effects of PPARgamma-activating ligands that decrease proliferation in human breast cancer cells. Our results established the presence of PPARalpha in human breast cancer cell lines and showed for the first time that activation of PPARalpha in human breast cancer cells promoted proliferation. Hence, this pathway may be significant in mammary gland tumorigenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Clofibrate / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Peroxisome Proliferators / pharmacology
  • Pyrimidines / pharmacology
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / drug effects
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / genetics
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Transcription Factors / drug effects
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Peroxisome Proliferators
  • Pyrimidines
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Transcription Factors
  • pirinixic acid
  • Clofibrate