Mothers with preeclampsia at reduced risk of developing breast cancer

January 22, 2016

The Factors InvolvedGingery studies two factors released during preeclampsia: sFlt-1 and soluble endoglin. sFlt-1 is a soluble version of a protein called VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor), which regulates the growth of cells. The other factor, soluble endoglin, is a co-receptor for TGF-?? (transforming growth factor beta). The TGF-?? pathway controls growth and Gingery proposes that soluble endoglin inhibits cell growth by reducing the signaling of this pathway. The TGF?? signaling pathway is an important factor in breast cancer development and progression. According to Gingery, at the early stages of cancer this pathway often suppresses tumor growth, but in advanced cancer it can actually promote cancer progression.Things Are Complicated: The Factors Only Protect the MothersGingery's work expanded to look at the pups born from mother rats with preeclampsia. Surprisingly, the preliminary results reveal that the pups born from the mother's with preeclampsia are more likely to develop breast tumors. The group is examining the time it takes to develop tumors and the characteristics of the tumors. On-going research is evaluating whether the mothers with the preeclampsia will have a reduced incidence of breast tumors.

Gingery speculates that perhaps the factors released during preeclampsia affect the stem cells of the mammary gland in some way that changes how the cells develop, which may affect protection against cancer. But she reiterates that this research is in its early stages and much is still unknown.

By studying the affects of preeclampsia on the protection against breast cancer, Gingery hopes to identify new targets that can be used in prevention and the development of therapeutics. "Preeclampsia is not a condition we want any mother to endure," explains Gingery. "We are simply using a unique way to find factors to be used for care and treatment of cancer. Sometimes it just takes looking at a question differently."

SOURCE Experimental Biology 2010 conference