Research ArticleCancer

IL-25 Causes Apoptosis of IL-25R–Expressing Breast Cancer Cells Without Toxicity to Nonmalignant Cells

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Science Translational Medicine  13 Apr 2011:
Vol. 3, Issue 78, pp. 78ra31
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3001374

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As cells differentiate into tissues, the microenvironment that surrounds these cells must cooperate so that properly organized, growth-controlled tissues are developed and maintained. We asked whether substances produced from this collaboration might thwart malignant cells if they arise in the vicinity of normal tissues. Here, we identified six factors secreted by nonmalignant mammary epithelial cells (MECs) differentiating in three-dimensional laminin-rich gels that exert cytotoxic activity on breast cancer cells. Among these, interleukin-25 (IL-25/IL-17E) had the highest anticancer activity without affecting nonmalignant MECs. Apoptotic activity of IL-25 was mediated by differential expression of its receptor, IL-25R, which was expressed in high amounts in tumors from patients with poor prognoses but was low in nonmalignant breast tissue. In response to IL-25, the IL-25R on the surface of breast cancer cells activated caspase-mediated apoptosis. Thus, the IL-25/IL-25R signaling pathway may serve as a new therapeutic target for advanced breast cancer.

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