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      The Multifaceted Mechanism of Leptin Signaling within Tumor Microenvironment in Driving Breast Cancer Growth and Progression

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          Adipokines represent likely candidates to mediate the increased breast cancer risk and the enhanced progression associated with obesity. Other contributors to obesity-related cancer progression are insulin/IGF-1 pathways and hormones. Among these, the adipokine leptin is the most intensively studied in both metabolism in general and in cancer due to the fact that leptin levels increase in proportion of fat mass. Leptin is primarily synthesized from adipocytes but it is also produced by other cells including fibroblasts. In this latter case, it has been well demonstrated how cancer-associated fibroblasts express leptin receptor and secrete leptin, which sustains a short autocrine loop and is able to target tumor epithelial cells enhancing breast cancer cell motility and invasiveness. In addition, it has been reported that leptin may induce breast cancer to undergo a transition from epithelial to spindle-like mesenchymal morphology, activating the signaling pathways devoted to the EMT. Thus, it emerges how leptin may play a crucial role in mediating malignant cell and tumor microenvironment interactions. Here, we present an overview of the role of leptin in breast cancer, covering the following topics: (1) leptin as an amplifier of estrogen signaling in tumor epithelial cells contributing to the promotion of carcinogenesis; (2) leptin as a crucial player in mediating tumor-stroma interaction and influencing EMT-linked mechanisms, that may sustain breast cancer growth and progression; (3) leptin and leptin receptor targeting as novel therapeutic strategies for breast cancer treatment.

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          Most cited references 76

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          Serum immunoreactive-leptin concentrations in normal-weight and obese humans.

          Leptin, the product of the ob gene, is a hormone secreted by adipocytes. Animals with mutations in the ob gene are obese and lose weight when given leptin, but little is known about the physiologic actions of leptin in humans. Using a newly developed radioimmunoassay, wer measured serum concentrations of leptin in 136 normal-weight subjects and 139 obese subjects (body-mass index, > or = 27.3 for men and > or = 27.8 for women; the body-mass index was defined as the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters). The measurements were repeated in seven obese subjects after weight loss and during maintenance of the lower weight. The ob messenger RNA (mRNA) content of adipocytes was determined in 27 normal-weight and 27 obese subjects. The mean (+/- SD) serum leptin concentrations were 31.3 +/- 24.1 ng per milliliter in the obese subjects and 7.5 +/- 9.3 ng per milliliter in the normal-weight subjects (P < 0.001). There was a strong positive correlation between serum leptin concentrations and the percentage of body fat (r = 0.85, P < 0.001). The ob mRNA content of adipocytes was about twice as high in the obese subjects as in the normal-weight subjects (P < 0.001) and was correlated with the percentage of body fat (r = 0.68, P < 0.001) in the 54 subjects in whom it was measured. In the seven obese subjects studied after weight loss, both serum leptin concentrations and ob mRNA content of adipocytes declined, but these measures increased again during the maintenance of the lower weight. Serum leptin concentrations are correlated with the percentage of body fat, suggesting that most obese persons are insensitive to endogenous leptin production.
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            Stromal fibroblasts in cancer initiation and progression.

            It is widely accepted that the development of carcinoma--the most common form of human cancer--is due to the accumulation of somatic mutations in epithelial cells. The behaviour of carcinomas is also influenced by the tumour microenvironment, which includes extracellular matrix, blood vasculature, inflammatory cells and fibroblasts. Recent studies reveal that fibroblasts have a more profound influence on the development and progression of carcinomas than was previously appreciated. These new findings have important therapeutic implications.
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              Leptin levels in human and rodent: measurement of plasma leptin and ob RNA in obese and weight-reduced subjects.

              Leptin, the gene product of the obese gene, may play an important role in regulating body weight by signalling the size of the adipose tissue mass. Plasma leptin was found to be highly correlated with body mass index (BMI) in rodents and in 87 lean and obese humans. In humans, there was variability in plasma leptin at each BMI suggesting that there are differences in its secretion rate from fat. Weight loss due to food restriction was associated with a decrease in plasma leptin in samples from mice and obese humans.

                Author and article information

                Front Oncol
                Front Oncol
                Front. Oncol.
                Frontiers in Oncology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                27 October 2014
                26 November 2014
                : 4
                1Department of Pharmacy, Health and Nutritional Sciences, University of Calabria , Rende, Italy
                2Centro Sanitario, University of Calabria , Rende, Italy
                Author notes

                Edited by: Bianca Maria Veneziani, University of Naples Federico II, Italy

                Reviewed by: Deborah Stroka, University of Bern, Switzerland; Mary Helen Barcellos-Hoff, New York University School of Medicine, USA

                *Correspondence: Sebastiano Andò, Department of Pharmacy, Health and Nutritional Sciences, University of Calabria, Via P. Bucci, Arcavacata di Rende, Cosenza, 87036, Italy e-mail: sebastiano.ando@

                This article was submitted to Molecular and Cellular Oncology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Oncology.

                Copyright © 2014 Andò, Barone, Giordano, Bonofiglio and Catalano.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Figures: 1, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 76, Pages: 6, Words: 5455
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