Effects of adiponectin and leptin co-treatment on human breast cancer cell growth

Katai J. Nkhata, Amitabha Ray, Todd F. Schuster, Michael E Grossmann, Margot P Cleary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Obesity is a risk factor for postmenopausal breast cancer (BC), but the specific mechanisms for this relationship are not well understood. Studies on adipocyte-derived adiponectin and leptin reveal opposing effects on BC cell proliferation in vitro, suggesting they may play a role in BC pathogenesis. In the current study we examined effects on proliferation of five BC cell lines treated with varying adiponectin:leptin (A/L) ratios. A decrease in proliferation was noted for MCF-7 and T47-D cells with increasing ratios (2-500), while an increase was seen in similarly treated MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-361 cells. For SK-BR-3 cells, an increase was seen at a ratio of 8. We identified differential effects on some pro-mitogenic, survival and apoptosis-related proteins in MCF-7 and T47-D cells treated at an A/L ratio of 100. Specifically, the AKT and MAPK pathways were not activated in MCF-7 cells, but AKT activation occured within 30 min and MAPK activation was sustained at 48 h in T47-D cells. p53 and Bax were elevated in MCF-7, but were below basal in T47-D cells at 30 min. While co-treatment enhanced apoptosis in MCF-7, similar treatment had the opposite effect in T47-D cells. There were no differences in cell cycle distribution between treated or untreated MCF-7 or T47-D, although T47-D cells had a slightly higher proportion in the G1/G0 phase after co-treatment. The effects of A/L ratio on mediating proliferation may have some specificity since the cell lines exhibited different responses. This may explain previous inconsistencies for the relationship of serum leptin with BC. More studies are needed to better understand the complex interactions that exist between these two adipokines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1611-1619
Number of pages9
JournalOncology Reports
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2009


  • Adipokines
  • Adiponectin
  • Breast cancer
  • Leptin
  • Obesity

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