Endocrinology Journal Article

Metabolic Effects of Breast Cancer Therapy

November 02, 2021
 

Rebecca L Scalzo, Rebecca M Foright, Sara E Hull, Leslie A Knaub, Stevi Johnson-Murguia, Fotobari Kinanee, Jeffrey Kaplan, Julie A Houck, Ginger Johnson, Rachel R Sharp, Austin E Gillen, Kenneth L Jones, Anni M Y Zhang, James D Johnson, Paul S MacLean, Jane E B Reusch, Sabrina Wright-Hobart, Elizabeth A Wellberg
Endocrinology, Volume 162, Issue 11, November 2021, bqab174
https://doi.org/10.1210/endocr/bqab174

Abstract

Breast cancer survivors treated with tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors report weight gain and have an elevated risk of type 2 diabetes, especially if they have obesity. These patient experiences are inconsistent with, preclinical studies using high doses of tamoxifen which reported acute weight loss. We investigated the impact of breast cancer endocrine therapies in a preclinical model of obesity and in a small group of breast adipose tissue samples from women taking tamoxifen to understand the clinical findings. Mature female mice were housed at thermoneutrality and fed either a low-fat/low-sucrose (LFLS) or a high-fat/high-sucrose (HFHS) diet. Consistent with the high expression of Esr1 observed in mesenchymal stem cells from adipose tissue, endocrine therapy was associated with adipose accumulation and more preadipocytes compared with estrogen-treated control mice but resulted in fewer adipocyte progenitors only in the context of HFHS. Analysis of subcutaneous adipose stromal cells revealed diet- and treatment-dependent effects of endocrine therapies on various cell types and genes, illustrating the complexity of adipose tissue estrogen receptor signaling. Breast cancer therapies supported adipocyte hypertrophy and associated with hepatic steatosis, hyperinsulinemia, and glucose intolerance, particularly in obese females. Current tamoxifen use associated with larger breast adipocyte diameter only in women with obesity. Our translational studies suggest that endocrine therapies may disrupt adipocyte progenitors and support adipocyte hypertrophy, potentially leading to ectopic lipid deposition that may be linked to a greater type 2 diabetes risk. Monitoring glucose tolerance and potential interventions that target insulin action should be considered for some women receiving life-saving endocrine therapies for breast cancer.

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