IGF-1R pathway activation as putative biomarker for linsitinib therapy to revert tamoxifen resistance in ER-positive breast cancer.


Preclinical studies indicate that activated IGF-1R can drive endocrine resistance in ER-positive (ER+) breast cancer, but its clinical relevance is unknown. We studied the effect of IGF-1R signaling on tamoxifen benefit in patients and we searched for approaches to overcome IGF-1R-mediated tamoxifen failure in cell lines. Primary tumor blocks from postmenopausal ER+ breast cancer patients randomized between adjuvant tamoxifen versus nil were recollected. Immunohistochemistry for IGF-1R, p-IGF-1R/InsR, p-ERα(Ser118), p-ERα(Ser167) and PI3K/MAPK pathway proteins was performed. Multivariate Cox models were employed to assess tamoxifen efficacy. The association between p-IGF-1R/InsR and PI3K/MAPK pathway activation in MCF-7 and T47D cells was analyzed with Western blots. Cell proliferation experiments were performed under various growth-stimulating and -inhibiting conditions. Patients with ER+, IGF-1R-positive breast cancer without p-IGF-1R/InsR staining (n = 242) had tamoxifen benefit (HR 0.41, p = 0.0038), while the results for p-IGF-1R/InsR-positive patients (n = 125) were not significant (HR 0.95, p = 0.3). High p-ERα(Ser118) or p-ERα(Ser167) expression was associated with less tamoxifen benefit. In MCF-7 cells, IGF-1R stimulation increased phosphorylation of PI3K/MAPK proteins and ERα(Ser167) regardless of IGF-1R overexpression. This could be abrogated by the dual IGF-1R/InsR inhibitor linsitinib, but not by the IGF-IR-selective antibody 1H7. In MCF-7 and T47D cells, stimulation of the IGF-1R/InsR pathway resulted in cell proliferation regardless of tamoxifen. Abrogation of cell growth was regained by addition of linsitinib. In conclusion, p-IGF-1R/InsR positivity in ER+ breast cancer is associated with reduced benefit from adjuvant tamoxifen in postmenopausal patients. In cell lines, stimulation rather than overexpression of IGF-1R is driving tamoxifen resistance to be abrogated by linsitinib.

More about this publication

International journal of cancer
  • Volume 146
  • Issue nr. 8
  • Pages 2348-2359
  • Publication date 15-04-2020

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