The Role of Serotonin in Breast Cancer Stem Cells Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Breast tumors were the first tumors of epithelial origin shown to follow the cancer stem cell model. The model proposes that cancer stem cells are uniquely endowed with tumorigenic capacity and that their aberrant differentiation yields non-tumorigenic progeny, which constitute the bulk of the tumor cell population. Breast cancer stem cells resist therapies and seed metastases; thus, they account for breast cancer recurrence. Hence, targeting these cells is essential to achieve durable breast cancer remissions. We identified compounds including selective antagonists of multiple serotonergic system pathway components required for serotonin biosynthesis, transport, activity via multiple 5-HT receptors (5-HTRs), and catabolism that reduce the viability of breast cancer stem cells of both mouse and human origin using multiple orthologous assays. The molecular targets of the selective antagonists are expressed in breast tumors and breast cancer cell lines, which also produce serotonin, implying that it plays a required functional role in these cells. The selective antagonists act synergistically with chemotherapy to shrink mouse mammary tumors and human breast tumor xenografts primarily by inducing programmed tumor cell death. We hypothesize those serotonergic proteins of diverse activity function by common signaling pathways to maintain cancer stem cell viability. Here, we summarize our recent findings and the relevant literature regarding the role of serotonin in breast cancer.

publication date

  • May 26, 2021

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