Bisphosphonates suppress insulin-like growth factor 1-induced angiogenesis via the HIF-1α/VEGF signaling pathways in human breast cancer cells

Xudong Tang, Qunzhou Zhang, Shihong Shi, Yun Yen, Xiangyong Li, Yuefei Zhang, Keyuan Zhou, Anh D. Le

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


Adjunctive chemotherapy with bisphosphonates has been reported to delay bone metastasis and improve overall survival in breast cancer. Aside from its antiresorptive effect, bisphosphonates exhibit antitumor activities, in vitro and in vivo, via several mechanisms, including antiangiogenesis. In this study, we investigated the potential molecular mechanisms underlying the antiangiogenic effect of non-nitrogen-containing and nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates, clodronate and pamidronate, respectively, in insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 responsive human breast cancer cells. We tested whether bisphosphonates had any effects on hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α/vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) axis that plays a pivotal role in tumor angiogenesis, and our results showed that both pamidronate and clodronate significantly suppressed IGF-1-induced HIF-1α protein accumulation and VEGF expression in MCF-7 cells. Mechanistically, we found that either pamidronate or clodronate did not affect mRNA expression of HIF-1α, but they apparently promoted the degradation of IGF-1-induced HIF-1α protein. Meanwhile, we found that the presence of pamidronate and clodronate led to a dose-dependent decease in the newly-synthesized HIF-1α protein induced by IGF-1 in breast cancer cells after proteasomal inhibition, thus, indirectly reflecting the inhibition of protein synthesis. In addition, our results indicated that the inhibitory effects of bisphosphonates on the HIF-1α/VEGF axis are associated with the inhibition of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase/AKT/ mammalian target of rapamycin signaling pathways. Consistently, we demonstrated that pamidronate and clodronate functionally abrogated both in vitro and in vivo tumor angiogenesis induced by IGF-1-stimulated MCF-7 cells. These findings have highlighted an important mechanism of the pharmacological action of bisphosphonates in the inhibition of tumor angiogenesis in breast cancer cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-103
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Angiogenesis
  • Bisphosphonates
  • Breast cancer
  • HIF-1α
  • IGF-1
  • PI-3K/Akt
  • VEGF

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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