Eicosanoids and adipokines in breast cancer: from molecular mechanisms to clinical considerations

Antioxid Redox Signal. 2013 Jan 20;18(3):323-60. doi: 10.1089/ars.2011.4408. Epub 2012 Aug 29.


Chronic inflammation is one of the foremost risk factors for different types of malignancies, including breast cancer. Additional risk factors of this pathology in postmenopausal women are weight gain, obesity, estrogen secretion, and an imbalance in the production of adipokines, such as leptin and adiponectin. Various signaling products of transcription factor, nuclear factor-kappaB, in particular inflammatory eicosanoids, reactive oxygen species (ROS), and cytokines, are thought to be involved in chronic inflammation-induced cancer. Together, these key components have an influence on inflammatory reactions in malignant tissue damage when their levels are deregulated endogenously. Prostaglandins (PGs) are well recognized in inflammation and cancer, and they are solely biosynthesized through cyclooxygenases (COXs) from arachidonic acid. Concurrently, ROS give rise to bioactive isoprostanes from arachidonic acid precursors that are also involved in acute and chronic inflammation, but their specific characteristics in breast cancer are less demonstrated. Higher aromatase activity, a cytochrome P-450 enzyme, is intimately connected to tumor growth in the breast through estrogen synthesis, and is interrelated to COXs that catalyze the formation of both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory PGs such as PGE(2), PGF(2α), PGD(2), and PGJ(2) synchronously under the influence of specific mediators and downstream enzymes. Some of the latter compounds upsurge the intracellular cyclic adenosine monophosphate concentration and appear to be associated with estrogen synthesis. This review discusses the role of COX- and ROS-catalyzed eicosanoids and adipokines in breast cancer, and therefore ranges from their molecular mechanisms to clinical aspects to understand the impact of inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines / metabolism
  • Adipokines / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Eicosanoids / metabolism
  • Eicosanoids / physiology*
  • Female
  • Free Radicals / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Signal Transduction


  • Adipokines
  • Eicosanoids
  • Free Radicals