Exendin-4, a Glucagonlike Peptide-1 Receptor Agonist, Attenuates Breast Cancer Growth by Inhibiting NF-κB Activation

Endocrinology. 2017 Dec 1;158(12):4218-4232. doi: 10.1210/en.2017-00461.


Incretin therapies have received much attention because of their tissue-protective effects, which extend beyond those associated with glycemic control. Cancer is a primary cause of death in patients who have diabetes mellitus. We previously reported antiprostate cancer effects of the glucagonlike peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor (GLP-1R) agonist exendin-4 (Ex-4). Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in female patients who have type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity. Thus, we examined whether GLP-1 action could attenuate breast cancer. GLP-1R was expressed in human breast cancer tissue and MCF-7, MDA-MB-231, and KPL-1 cell lines. We found that 0.1 to 10 nM Ex-4 significantly decreased the number of breast cancer cells in a dose-dependent manner. Although Ex-4 did not induce apoptosis, it attenuated breast cancer cell proliferation significantly and dose-dependently. However, the dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitor linagliptin did not affect breast cancer cell proliferation. When MCF-7 cells were transplanted into athymic mice, Ex-4 decreased MCF-7 tumor size in vivo. Ki67 immunohistochemistry revealed that breast cancer cell proliferation was significantly reduced in tumors extracted from Ex-4-treated mice. In MCF-7 cells, Ex-4 significantly inhibited nuclear factor κB (NF-κB ) nuclear translocation and target gene expression. Furthermore, Ex-4 decreased both Akt and IκB phosphorylation. These results suggest that GLP-1 could attenuate breast cancer cell proliferation via activation of GLP-1R and subsequent inhibition of NF-κB activation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • Exenatide
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor / agonists*
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor / genetics
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Incretins / pharmacology
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Mice, Nude
  • Middle Aged
  • NF-kappa B / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Peptides / pharmacology*
  • Venoms / pharmacology*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor
  • Incretins
  • NF-kappa B
  • Peptides
  • Venoms
  • Exenatide