Indirect support for IPT – the science of insulin

Cancer Res. 2010 Apr 15;70(8):3013-9. Epub 2010 Mar 30.

Genetic screen identifies insulin-like growth factor binding protein 5 as a modulator of tamoxifen resistance in breast cancer.

Ahn BY, Elwi AN, Lee B, Trinh DL, Klimowicz AC, Yau A, Chan JA, Magliocco A, Kim SW.

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Laboratory Medicine, Clark H Smith Brain Tumour Centre, and Southern Alberta Cancer Research Institute, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


Tamoxifen resistance is one of the overarching challenges in the treatment of patients with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer.

Through a genome-wide RNA interference screen to discover genes responsible for tamoxifen resistance in vitro, we identified insulin-like growth factor binding protein 5 (IGFBP5) as a determinant of drug sensitivity. Specific knockdown of IGFBP5 by retroviral infection with short hairpin RNA-expressing cassette in MCF7 human breast cancer cells (pRS-shIGFBP5) conferred tamoxifen resistance in vitro due to concomitant loss of ERalpha expression and signaling. IGFBP5 expression was also reduced in MCF7 cells selected for tamoxifen resistance in culture (TAMR). Both tamoxifen-resistant MCF7-TAMR and MCF7-pRS-shIGFBP5 cells could be resensitized to drug by treatment with exogenous recombinant IGFBP5 (rIGFBP5) protein.

Treatment with rIGFBP5 protein in mouse tumor xenografts reversed the in vivo tamoxifen resistance of MCF7-pRS-shIGFBP5 cell-derived tumors by reducing tumor cell proliferation. IGFBP5 immunohistochemical staining in a cohort of 153 breast cancer patients showed that low IGFBP5 expression was associated with shorter overall survival after tamoxifen therapy. Thus, IGFBP5 warrants investigation as an agent to reverse tamoxifen resistance.

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