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Iron-regulating protein is strong predictor of breast cancer prognosis, study shows
Date:8/4/2010

cer, the researchers first looked at isolated human breast cancer cells and found that there was a significant reduction of ferroportin in the cancerous cells compared to that of normal breast cells.

There are changes in many of the genes and proteins in cancer cells, Torti explained, so the researchers next explored whether the reduction in ferroportin in cancer cells directly contributed to the growth of the cancer or whether it was simply a consequence of the disease. To do this, the researchers artificially increased ferroportin to near normal levels in an aggressive breast cancer cell line in which ferroportin levels were initially very low. Using a mouse model, the researchers watched the growth of tumors formed by these cells, and found that the ones in which the levels of ferroportin had been restored to normal grew more slowly than the tumors formed by cells with depleted levels of the protein.

"The reason for that is simple," explained Suzy V. Torti, Ph.D., an associate professor of biochemistry at Wake Forest Baptist and co-lead investigator on the paper. "In the case of cancer, the ability to remove iron from cells is reduced by the depleted ferroportin levels, and as a result, iron accumulates in cancer cells. Cancer cells require iron, which allows the tumor to grow faster and perhaps become more aggressive. Because ferroportin can remove iron from the cell, when we put the protein back into the cell, the ferroportin removed the cancer's growth stimulus. Our findings suggest that ferroportin is a substantial influence on the behavior of the cancer."

She noted that though the iron at issue acts as a growth stimulus for cancer, the study focused on cellular and not dietary iron or iron supplements. When regulated appropriately, iron is vital to all cell development including that of healthy cells and patients should not change the amount of iron in their diets.

Next, the researchers looked at ferroportin levels i
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Contact: Jessica Guenzel
jguenzel@wfubmc.edu
336-716-3487
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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