Role of Hedgehog Signaling in Breast Cancer: Pathogenesis and Therapeutics

Cells. 2019 Apr 25;8(4):375. doi: 10.3390/cells8040375.


Breast cancer (BC) is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality in women, only followed by lung cancer. Given the importance of BC in public health, it is essential to identify biomarkers to predict prognosis, predetermine drug resistance and provide treatment guidelines that include personalized targeted therapies. The Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway plays an essential role in embryonic development, tissue regeneration, and stem cell renewal. Several lines of evidence endorse the important role of canonical and non-canonical Hh signaling in BC. In this comprehensive review we discuss the role of Hh signaling in breast development and homeostasis and its contribution to tumorigenesis and progression of different subtypes of BC. We also examine the efficacy of agents targeting different components of the Hh pathway both in preclinical models and in clinical trials. The contribution of the Hh pathway in BC tumorigenesis and progression, its prognostic role, and its value as a therapeutic target vary according to the molecular, clinical, and histopathological characteristics of the BC patients. The evidence presented here highlights the relevance of the Hh signaling in BC, and suggest that this pathway is key for BC progression and metastasis.

Keywords: Patched-1; Smoothened; TNBC; breast cancer; clinical trial; glioma-associated oncogene; hedgehog; sonic; therapeutics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Female
  • Hedgehog Proteins / metabolism
  • Hedgehog Proteins / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Prognosis
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Hedgehog Proteins