Adipocytes express substances involved in both normal physiology and pathological processes. One such adipocyte protein is the Serpin (serine protease inhibitor) plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1). PAI-1 functions to inhibit urokinase type plasminogen activator (uPA) though PAI-1 itself is also implicated in breast cancer progression. While the role of adipocytes in breast cancer development is not fully understood, obesity is a known risk factor associated with breast cancer. Thus, we characterized adipocytes from breast and omental tissues for PAI-1 and uPA, and the influence of adipocytes on breast cancer cell motility. Using preadipocyte cells from breast and omental adipose tissue, we differentiated each site into mature adipocytes. PAI-1 protein was found in breast adipocytes>omental preadipocytes>omental adipocytes>breast preadipocytes. Interestingly, uPA protein was not detected in any of these cell types. We then incubated breast adipocyte conditioned media (Adip-CM) and preadipocyte conditioned media (PreAdip-CM) on both normal (MCF-10A) and malignant (MCF-10CA1) breast epithelial cell lines. Adip-CM, but not PreAdip-CM, (a) increased cell motility in both MCF-10A and MCF-10CA1 cells; (b) increased cell-associated uPA activity in both cell lines; (c) increased phosphorylated-Akt levels in MCF-10CA1 cells; and (d) gene array profiles show altered expression of several genes associated with cancer adhesion, metastasis and signaling. Our results suggest that mature breast adipocytes are capable of altering the epithelial cell phenotype, producing a more motile cell type and further provide a potential link between obesity and risk of breast cancer.
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