Introduction: Inflammation within the tumour microenvironment correlates with increased invasiveness and poor prognosis in many types of cancer, including breast cancer. We have previously demonstrated that activation of a mouse mammary tumour virus (MMTV)-driven inducible fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 (iFGFR1) transgene in mammary epithelial cells results in an inflammatory response characterised by induction of inflammatory genes in the mammary gland. Specifically, we have observed increased levels of IL-1beta expression in the mammary gland following activation of iFGFR1 and have used the iFGFR1 model to elucidate the function of IL-1beta in promoting iFGFR1-induced mammary lesions.
Methods: To determine the functional consequences of IL-1beta induction during FGFR1-induced mammary tumourigenesis, the effects of IL-1beta inhibition on the formation of epithelial hyperplasias were examined using the MMTV-iFGFR1 transgenic mouse model. Further studies used a combination of the HC-11 mammary epithelial cell line that stably expresses iFGFR1 and the MMTV-iFGFR1 transgenic mice to further define the mechanisms of IL-1beta function.
Results: Inhibition of IL-1beta activity in vivo resulted in reduced iFGFR1-induced epithelial proliferation and formation of hyperplastic structures. Further studies demonstrated that treatment of mammary epithelial cells with IL-1beta-induced expression of cyclooxygenase (Cox)-2 both in vitro and in vivo. Finally, inhibition of Cox-2 prior to activation of iFGFR1 in the transgenic mice also resulted in decreased iFGFR1-induced formation of hyperplastic structures.
Conclusions: The results from these studies indicate that targeting the inflammatory cytokine IL-1beta partially inhibits iFGFR1-induced formation of early-stage mammary lesions, in part through induction of Cox-2. These findings demonstrate that activation of a growth factor receptor in mammary epithelial cells results in increased expression of inflammatory mediators, which cooperate to promote the initiation of hyperplastic lesions in the mammary gland.