Research Papers:

Implications of a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARα) ligand clofibrate in breast cancer

Karthic Chandran, Sudeshna Goswami and Neelam Sharma-Walia _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:15577-15599. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.6402

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Karthic Chandran1,*, Sudeshna Goswami1, Neelam Sharma-Walia1,*

1H. M. Bligh Cancer Research Laboratories, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, North Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Neelam Sharma-Walia, e-mail: neelam.sharma-walia@rosalindfranklin.edu

Keywords: breast cancer, fatty acid synthase, COX-2, PPAR, prostaglandin E2

Received: September 03, 2015     Accepted: November 14, 2015     Published: November 26, 2015


Inflammatory and invasive breast cancers are aggressive and require better understanding for the development of new treatments and more accurate prognosis. Here, we detected high expression of PPARα in human primary inflammatory (SUM149PT) and highly invasive (SUM1315MO2) breast cancer cells, and tissue sections of human breast cancer. PPARα ligands are clinically used to treat dyslipidemia. Among lipid lowering drugs clofibrate, fenofibrate and WY14643, clofibrate showed high chemo-sensitivity towards breast cancer cells. Clofibrate treatment significantly induced PPARα DNA binding activity, and remarkably reduced cyclooxygenase-2/PGE2 and 5-lipoxygenase/LTB4 inflammatory pathways. Clofibrate treatment reduced the proliferation of breast cancer cells probably by inhibiting NF-κB and ERK1/2 activation, reducing cyclinD1, cyclinA, cyclinE, and inducing pro-apoptotic P21 levels. Surprisingly, the expression of lipogenic pathway genes including SREBP-1c (sterol regulatory element-binding protein-1c), HMG-CoA synthase, SPTLC1 (serine palmitoyltransferase long-chain), and Acyl-CoA oxidase (ACO) decreased with a concurrent increase in fatty acid oxidation genes such as CPT-1a (carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1a) and SREBP-2 (Sterol regulatory element-binding protein-2). Clofibrate treatment induced secretion of free fatty acids and effectively decreased the level of phosphorylated active form of fatty acid synthase (FASN), an enzyme catalyzing de novo synthesis of fatty acids. High level of coactivators steroid receptor coactivator-1 (SRC-1) and histone acetylase CBP-300 (CREB binding protein-300) were observed in the nuclear complexes of clofibrate treated breast cancer cells. These findings implicate that stimulating PPARα by safe, well-tolerated, and clinically approved clofibrate may provide a safer and more effective strategy to target the signaling, lipogenic, and inflammatory pathways in aggressive forms of breast cancer.

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