Lipocalin 2: a multifaceted modulator of human cancer

Cell Cycle. 2009 Aug;8(15):2347-52. doi: 10.4161/cc.8.15.9224. Epub 2009 Aug 8.


Lipocalin 2 (Lcn2), a member of the lipocalin family that transports small lipophilic ligands, has gained recent attention as both a potential biomarker and a modulator of human cancers. Here we describe recent findings of the functions of Lcn2 in breast cancer and the potential mechanisms that underlie its actions. Lcn2 has been shown to induce the epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) in breast cancer cells and to promote breast tumor invasion. Estrogen receptor alpha may participate in the pathway that leads to Lcn2-induced EMT. Preliminary evidence also suggests that Lcn2 may be useful as a potential non-invasive urinary biomarker of breast cancer. Elevated levels of Lcn2 have also been reported in other human cancers. The potential roles of Lcn2 in epithelial tumors as well as leukemia are also reviewed and discussed here.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute-Phase Proteins / metabolism*
  • Acute-Phase Proteins / urine
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Ligands
  • Lipocalin-2
  • Lipocalins / metabolism*
  • Lipocalins / urine
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / urine


  • Acute-Phase Proteins
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • LCN2 protein, human
  • Ligands
  • Lipocalin-2
  • Lipocalins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Iron
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9