Lactobacilli Modulate Hypoxia-Inducible Factor (HIF)-1 Regulatory Pathway in Triple Negative Breast Cancer Cell Line

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Medical Genetics, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Microbiology, School of Biology and Center of Excellence in Phylogeny Living Organisms, College of Science, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


Hypoxia-Inducible Factor (HIF)-1 plays an essential role in the body’s response to low oxygen concentrations and regulates expression of several genes implicated in homeostasis, vascularization, anaerobic metabolism as well as immunological responses. Increased levels of HIF-1α are associated with increased proliferation and more aggressive breast tumor development. Lactobacilli have been shown to exert anti-cancer effects on several malignancies including breast cancer. However, the exact mechanism of such effect is not clear yet. The aim of this study was to analyze the expression of selected genes from HIF pathway in a triple negative breast cancer cell line (expressing no estrogen and progesterone receptors as well as HER-2/Neu), MDA-MB-231, following treatment with two lactobacilli culture supernatants.
Materials and Methods
In this experimental study, we analyzed the expression of HIF-1α, SLC2A1, VHL, HSP90, XBP1 and SHARP1 genes from HIF pathway in MDA-MB-231 cells, before and after treatment with Lactobacillus crispatus and Lactobacillus rhamnosus culture supernatants (LCS and LRS, respectively) by means of quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR).
Both LRS and LCS had cytotoxic effects on MDA-MB-231 cells, while the former type was more cytotoxic. LRS dramatically down-regulated expression levels of the HIF-1α, HSP90 and SLC2A1 in the MDA-MB-231 cells. LCS had similar effect on the expression of HSP90, to what was observed in the LRS treatment. The expression level of tumor suppressor genes VHL and SHARP1 were also decreased in LCS treated cells.
Although both LCS and LRS had cytotoxic effects on the MDA-MB-231 cells, it is proposed that LRS could be more appropriate for pathway directed treatment modalities, as it did not decrease expression of tumor suppressor genes involved in HIF pathway. Down-regulation of HIF pathway mediated oncogenes by LRS suggests that the cytotoxic effects of this Lactobacillus may at least be partly caused by this mechanism. As previous studies have shown that inhibition of HIF-1α and HSP90 expressions have therapeutic impact on cancer treatment, the inhibitory effect of LRS on expression of these genes implies that this Lactobacillus can be used in treatment strategies.