Hormone responsive human breast cancer in long term tissue culture: effect of insulin

C. K. Osborne, G. Bolan, M. E. Monaco, M. E. Lippman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

210 Scopus citations


The mechanisms of steroid and peptide hormone action in human breast cancer are poorly understood. The authors have previously characterized a cell line of human breast cancer in long term tissue culture that possesses various steroid hormone receptors and responses, providing a model for the study of steroid hormone action. The present studies describe a human breast cancer in vitro that responds to physiologic concentrations of insulin with an increased rate of macromolecular synthesis and growth. Thymidine and uridine incorporation in cells in serum free medium are stimulated by 10-11M insulin and are maximal with 10-8M. Leucine incorporation is stimulated by 5x10-11M insulin and is maximal with 10-9M. Significant stimulation of uridine and leucine incorporation is evident by 3 hr and maximal by 10 hr. A 10 hr lag period exists for insulin stimulation of thymidine incorporation, which is maximal from 14 to 24 hr. The effect of 10-8 M insulin on macromolecular synthesis is accompanied by a 69% increase above controls in the number of cells after 24 hr. The effect on macromolecular synthesis is observed in glucose free medium. Insulin's effect on protein synthesis is not blocked by inhibition of RNA synthesis with actinomycin D. Glucocorticoids partially inhibit the action of insulin in these cells. This system provides a model for studying insulin action, and suggests that some human breast cancer may show growth regulation by insulin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4536-4540
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1976

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