Introduction: Previous studies have identified cholesterol as an important regulator of breast cancer development. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) and its cellular receptor, the scavenger receptor class B type I (SR-BI) have both been implicated in the regulation of cellular cholesterol homeostasis, but their functions in cancer remain to be established.
Methods: In the present study, we have examined the role of HDL and SR-BI in the regulation of cellular signaling pathways in breast cancer cell lines and in the development of tumor in a mouse xenograft model.
Results: Our data show that HDL is capable of stimulating migration and can activate signal transduction pathways in the two human breast cancer cell lines, MDA-MB-231 and MCF7. Furthermore, we also show that knockdown of the HDL receptor, SR-BI, attenuates HDL-induced activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/protein Kinase B (Akt) pathway in both cell lines. Additional investigations show that inhibition of the PI3K pathway, but not that of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway, could lead to a reduction in cellular proliferation in the absence of SR-BI. Importantly, whereas the knockdown of SR-BI led to decreased proliferation and migration in vitro, it also led to a significant reduction in tumor growth in vivo. Most important, we also show that pharmacological inhibition of SR-BI can attenuate signaling and lead to decreased cellular proliferation in vitro. Taken together, our data indicate that both cholesteryl ester entry via HDL-SR-BI and Akt signaling play an essential role in the regulation of cellular proliferation and migration, and, eventually, tumor growth.
Conclusions: These results identify SR-BI as a potential target for the treatment of breast cancer.