Cannabinoid receptors promote chronic intermittent hypoxia-induced breast cancer metastasis via IGF-1R/AKT/GSK-3β

Mol Ther Oncolytics. 2021 Oct 1:23:220-230. doi: 10.1016/j.omto.2021.09.007. eCollection 2021 Dec 17.


The progression of breast cancer is closely related to obstructive sleep apnea-hypopnea syndrome (OSAHS). Low concentrations of cannabinoids promote tumor proliferation. However, the role of cannabinoid receptors (CBs) in chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH)-induced breast cancer has not been reported. The migration and invasion of breast cancer cell lines (MCF-7 and T47D) were measured by scratch assay and transwell assay. Gene and protein expressions were analyzed by qPCR and western blotting. Tumor xenograft mice model were established to evaluate the function of CBs. We observed that chronic hypoxia (CH) and CIH increased CBs expression and promoted migration and invasion in breast cancer. Mice grafted with MCF-7 exhibited obvious tumor growth, angiogenesis, and lung metastasis in CIH compared with CH and control. In addition, CIH induced CBs expression, which subsequently activated insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R)/AKT/glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β) axis. Knockdown of CBs alleviated CIH-induced migration and invasion of breast cancer in vitro. Furthermore, CIH exaggerated the malignancy of breast cancer and silencing of CBs suppressed tumor growth and metastasis in vivo. Our study contributed to understanding the role of CIH in breast cancer development modulation.

Keywords: IGF-1R/AKT/GSK-3β signaling pathway; breast cancer; cannabinoid receptors; chronic intermittent hypoxia; metastasis; proliferation.