Insulin-like growth factors I and II receptors in the breast cancer survival disparity among African-American women

Growth Horm IGF Res. 2010 Jun;20(3):245-54. doi: 10.1016/j.ghir.2010.03.001. Epub 2010 Mar 27.


Objective: African-American (AA) women with breast cancer are more likely to have advanced disease at diagnosis, higher risk of recurrence and poorer prognosis than Caucasian (CA) women. We have recently shown higher insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-II) expression in paired breast tissue samples from AA women as compared to CA women. IGF-II is a potent mitogen that induces cell proliferation and survival signals through activation of the IGF-I and Insulin receptors (IGF-IR, IR) while IGF-II circulating levels are regulated by cellular uptake through the IGF2 receptor. We hypothesize that differential expression of the IGF1R and IGF2R among AA and CA women potentiates IGF-II mitogenic effects, thus contributing to the health disparity observed between these ethnic groups.

Design: We examined IGF-IR and IGF2R mRNA, protein expression and IGF1R phosphorylation in paired breast tissue samples from AA and CA women by Real Time-PCR, Western blot analysis, immunohistochemistry and ELISA techniques.

Results: Our results showed significantly increased expression of IGF1R in AA normal tissues as compared to CA normal tissues. IGF1R expression was similar between AA normal and malignant tissues, while IGF1R, IRS-1 and Shc phosphorylation was significantly higher in AA tumor samples. Significantly higher levels of IGF2R were found in CA tumor samples as compared to AA tumor samples.

Conclusions: We conclude that IGF1R and IGF2R differential expression may contribute to the increased risk of malignant transformation in young AA women and to the more aggressive breast cancer phenotype observed among AA breast cancer patients and represent, along with IGF-II, potential therapeutic targets in breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / genetics*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / ethnology
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / mortality*
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / ethnology
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / mortality
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / genetics*
  • Receptor, IGF Type 2 / genetics*
  • Young Adult


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptor, IGF Type 2
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1