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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 638526, 8 pages
Review Article

Targeting Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein-3 Signaling in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

Hormones and Cancer Division, Kolling Institute of Medical Research, Royal North Shore Hospital, University of Sydney, St Leonards, NSW 2065, Australia

Received 20 July 2014; Accepted 29 September 2014

Academic Editor: Eileen M. McGowan

Copyright © 2015 Kamila A. Marzec et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) is a key regulatory molecule of the IGF axis and can function in a tissue-specific way as both a tumor suppressor and promoter. Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) has high tumor expression of IGFBP-3 associated with markers of poor prognosis and, although accounting for 15–20% of all breast cancers, is responsible for disproportionate rates of morbidity and mortality. Because they lack estrogen and progesterone receptors and overexpression of HER2, TNBC are resistant to treatments that target these molecules, making the development of new therapies an important goal. In addition to frequent high expression of IGFBP-3, these tumors also express EGFR highly, but targeting EGFR signaling alone in TNBC has been of little success. Identification of a functional growth-stimulatory interaction between EGFR and IGFBP-3 signaling prompted investigation into cotargeting these pathways as a novel therapy for TNBC. This involves inhibition of both EGFR kinase activity and a mediator of IGFBP-3’s stimulatory bioactivity, sphingosine kinase-1 (SphK1), and has shown promise in a preclinical setting. Functional interaction between EGFR and IGFBP-3 may also promote chemoresistance in TNBC, and delineating the mechanisms involved may identify additional targets for development of therapies in cancers that express both IGFBP-3 and EGFR.