IGFBP7 reduces breast tumor growth by induction of senescence and apoptosis pathways

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2012 Jun;133(2):563-73. doi: 10.1007/s10549-011-1816-4. Epub 2011 Oct 14.


Insulin-like growth factor binding protein 7 (IGFBP7) has been shown to be a tumor suppressor in a variety of cancers. We previously have shown that IGFBP7 expression is inversely correlated with disease progression and poor outcome in breast cancer. Overexpression of IGFBP7 in MDA-MB-468, a triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) cell line, resulted in inhibition of growth and migration. Xenografted tumors bearing ectopic IGFBP7 expression were significantly growth-impaired compared to IGFBP7-negative controls, which suggested that IGFBP7 treatment could inhibit breast cancer cell growth. To confirm this notion, 14 human patient primary breast tumors were analyzed by qRTPCR for IGFBP7 expression. The TNBC tumors expressed the lowest levels of IGFBP7 expression, which also correlated with higher tumorigenicity in mice. Furthermore, when breast cancer cell lines were treated with IGFBP7, only the TNBC cell lines were growth inhibited. Treatment of NOD/SCID mice harboring xenografts of TNBC cells with IGFBP7 systemically every 3-4 days inhibited tumorigenesis, with associated anti-angiogenic effects, together with increased apoptosis. Upon examining the mechanism of IGFBP7-mediated growth inhibition in TNBC cells, we found that cells not only were arrested in G1 phase of the cell cycle but also underwent senescence as a result of treatment with IGFBP7. Interestingly, IGFBP7 treatment was also associated with strong activation of the stress-associated p38 MAPK pathway, together with upregulation of p53 and the cyclin-dependent protein kinase (CDK) inhibitor, p21(cip1). Prolonged treatment of cells with IGFBP7 resulted in increased cell death, marked by an increase in apoptotic cells and associated cleaved PARP. This is the first study showing that exogenous IGFBP7 inhibits TNBC cell growth both in vitro and in vivo. Taken together, these results suggest IGFBP7 treatment might have therapeutic potential for TNBC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cellular Senescence / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Mice, SCID
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / deficiency
  • Receptors, Estrogen / deficiency
  • Receptors, Progesterone / deficiency
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • insulin-like growth factor binding protein-related protein 1
  • Receptor, ErbB-2