Oxygen-dependent regulation of tumor growth and metastasis in human breast cancer xenografts

PLoS One. 2017 Aug 23;12(8):e0183254. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0183254. eCollection 2017.


Background: Tumor hypoxia is relevant for tumor growth, metabolism, resistance to chemotherapy and metastasis. We have previously shown that hyperoxia, using hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT), attenuates tumor growth and shifts the phenotype from mesenchymal to epithelial (MET) in the DMBA-induced mammary tumor model. This study describes the effect of HBOT on tumor growth, angiogenesis, chemotherapy efficacy and metastasis in a triple negative MDA-MB-231 breast cancer model, and evaluates tumor growth using a triple positive BT-474 breast cancer model.

Materials and methods: 5 x 105 cancer cells were injected s.c. in the groin area of NOD/SCID female mice. The BT-474 group was supplied with Progesterone and Estradiol pellets 2-days prior to tumor cell injection. Mice were divided into controls (1 bar, pO2 = 0.2 bar) or HBOT (2.5 bar, pO2 = 2.5 bar, 90 min, every third day until termination of the experiments). Treatment effects were determined by assessment of tumor growth, proliferation (Ki67-staining), angiogenesis (CD31-staining), metastasis (immunostaining), EMT markers (western blot), stromal components collagen type I, Itgb1 and FSP1 (immunostaining) and chemotherapeutic efficacy (5FU).

Results: HBOT significantly suppressed tumor growth in both the triple positive and negative tumors, and both MDA-MB-231 and BT-474 showed a decrease in proliferation after HBOT. No differences were found in angiogenesis or 5FU efficacy between HBOT and controls. Nevertheless, HBOT significantly reduced both numbers and total area of the metastastatic lesions, as well as reduced expression of N-cadherin, Axl and collagen type I measured in the MDA-MB-231 model. No change in stromal Itgb1 and FSP1 was found in either tumor model.

Conclusion: Despite the fact that behavior and prognosis of the triple positive and negative subtypes of cancer are different, the HBOT had a similar suppressive effect on tumor growth, indicating that they share a common oxygen dependent anti-tumor mechanism. Furthermore, HBOT significantly reduced the number and area of metastatic lesions in the triple negative model as well as a significant reduction in the EMT markers N-cadherin, Axl and density of collagen type I.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Mice, SCID
  • Neoplasm Metastasis*
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Oxygen

Grants and funding

This work was partly supported by the Research Council of Norway through its Centre of Excellence funding scheme, project number 223250. The study was also supported by the Norwegian Cancer Society, Helse Vest RHF.