Washington, Oct 10 (ANI): High levels of "good cholesterol", i.e high density lipoprotein (HDL), can increase breast cancer risk and was found to enhance cancer aggressiveness in animal experiments, a new study has revealed.
A team of researchers led by Philippe Frank, Ph.D., a cancer biologist in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Thomas Jefferson University, has shown that an HDL receptor found on breast cancer cells may be responsible for this effect, proposing a new molecular target that could help treat the disease.
Frank said that by blocking the activity of the HDL receptor in breast cancer, it is possible to limit the harmful effects of HDL, while maintaining levels that are beneficial for blood vessels.
To study the effect of HDL on cancer cells at the molecular level, Dr. Frank and colleagues exposed breast cancer cell lines to HDL and noticed that signalling pathways involved in cancer progression were activated, and that the cells began to migrate in an experimental model mimicking metastasis.
The researchers then limited the expression of the HDL receptor called SR-BI in the cells using silencing RNA to reduce the receptor's levels. In response, the activities of the signalling pathways that promote tumour progression were reduced. In addition, cells with fewer SR-BI receptors displayed reduced proliferation rates and migratory abilities than cells with normal SR-BI levels.
Most importantly, reduced SR-BI levels were associated with reduced tumour formation in a mouse model of tumorigenesis. The researchers then blocked the SR-BI receptor in a breast cancer cell line with a drug called BLT-1 and noticed reduced proliferation and signalling via proteins linked to tumour formation.
This study supports the idea that HDL plays a role in the development of aggressive breast cancers and that inhibiting its function via SR-BI in breast cancer cells may stall cancer growth.
The work is published in the journal Breast Cancer Research. (ANI)