Mammary Gland Tumor Promotion by Chronic Administration of IGF1 and the Insulin Analogue AspB10 in the p53R270H/⁺WAPCre Mouse Model

Breast Cancer Res. 2015 Feb 18;17(1):14. doi: 10.1186/s13058-015-0518-y.


Introduction: Insulin analogues are structurally modified molecules with altered pharmaco-kinetic and -dynamic properties compared to regular human insulin used by diabetic patients. While these compounds are tested for undesired mitogenic effects, an epidemiological discussion is ongoing regarding an association between insulin analogue therapy and increased cancer incidence, including breast cancer. Standard in vivo rodent carcinogenesis assays do not pick up this possible increased carcinogenic potential.

Methods: Here we studied the role of insulin analogues in breast cancer development. For this we used the human relevant mammary gland specific p53R270H/⁺WAPCre mouse model. Animals received life long repeated treatment with four different insulin (-like) molecules: normal insulin, insulin glargine, insulin X10 (AspB10) or insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1).

Results: Insulin-like molecules with strong mitogenic signaling, insulin X10 and IGF1, significantly decreased the time for tumor development. Yet, insulin glargine and normal insulin, did not significantly decrease the latency time for (mammary gland) tumor development. The majority of tumors had an epithelial to mesenchymal transition phenotype (EMT), irrespective of treatment condition. Enhanced extracellular signaling related kinase (Erk) or serine/threonine kinase (Akt) mitogenic signaling was in particular present in tumors from the insulin X10 and IGF1 treatment groups.

Conclusions: These data indicate that insulin-like molecules with enhanced mitogenic signaling increase the risk of breast cancer development. Moreover, the use of a tissue specific cancer model, like the p53R270H/⁺WAPCre mouse model, is relevant to assess the intrinsic pro-carcinogenic potential of mitogenic and non-mitogenic biologicals such as insulin analogues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Body Weight / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / chemically induced
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / drug effects
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / genetics
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Insulin / administration & dosage*
  • Insulin / analogs & derivatives
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / administration & dosage*
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Animal / etiology*
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Animal / metabolism
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Animal / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Milk Proteins / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / metabolism
  • Receptor, Insulin / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics*


  • Insulin
  • Milk Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • whey acidic proteins
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1
  • Receptor, Insulin
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases