Protective Role of Healthy Breast Adipocytes in Combating Breast Cancer

The research team’s work focuses on identifying factors that impede this invasive progression, with IGFBP2 emerging as a key factor secreted by healthy adipocytes.

In addition to the loss of adipocytes that occurs as women age, this study found that older women had reduced expression of IGFBP2, suggesting that the anti-cancer activities of breast adipocytes might also decrease with age.

IGFBP2: A Potential Link Between Age, Breast Density, and Breast Cancer Risk

InFLAMES group leader, Professor Johanna Ivaska, the principle investigator on the project, expressed their astonishment at the findings, highlighting that, “increasing age and higher breast density, with fewer adipocytes, are two well established risk factors for the development of breast cancer. Our research provides a possible explanation for this increased risk, as we found that IGFBP2 levels are also reduced in older individuals and that healthy breast adipocytes can secrete factors, such as IGFBP2, to inhibit tumour progression.”


The implications of this discovery extend to the understanding of mammary density and its connection with poorer prognosis. Dr. James Conway, the lead researcher of the team, added, “While restoring IGFBP2 into the mammary environment might not be possible, the use of antibody-based inhibitors of IGF-II could help to contain non-invasive breast lesions by acting in a similar fashion to IGFBP2 itself, which we have already observed in our model systems.”

The team is now exploring the therapeutic avenues that have opened up as a result of these recent findings.

Reference :

  1. IGFBP2 secretion by mammary adipocytes limits breast cancer invasion – (

Source: Eurekalert

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