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by Keyword: Breast-cancer

El Hauadi K, Resina L, Zanuy D, Esteves T, Ferreira FC, Pérez-Madrigal MM, Alemán C, (2022). Dendritic Self-assembled Structures from Therapeutic Charged Pentapeptides Langmuir 38, 12905-12914

CRENKA [Cys-Arg-(NMe)Glu-Lys-Ala, where (NMe)Glu refers to N-methyl-Glu], an anti-cancer pentapeptide that induces prostate tumor necrosis and significant reduction in tumor growth, was engineered to increase the resistance to endogenous proteases of its parent peptide, CREKA (Cys-Arg-Glu-Lys-Ala). Considering their high tendency to aggregate, the self-assembly of CRENKA and CREKA into well-defined and ordered structures has been examined as a function of peptide concentration and pH. Spectroscopic studies and atomistic molecular dynamics simulations reveal significant differences between the secondary structures of CREKA and CRENKA. Thus, the restrictions imposed by the (NMe)Glu residue reduce the conformational variability of CRENKA with respect to CREKA, which significantly affects the formation of well-defined and ordered self-assembly morphologies. Aggregates with poorly defined morphology are obtained from solutions with low and moderate CREKA concentrations at pH 4, whereas well-defined dendritic microstructures with fractal geometry are obtained from CRENKA solutions with similar peptide concentrations at pH 4 and 7. The formation of dendritic structures is proposed to follow a two-step mechanism: (1) pseudo-spherical particles are pre-nucleated through a diffusion-limited aggregation process, pre-defining the dendritic geometry, and (2) such pre-nucleated structures coalesce by incorporating conformationally restrained CRENKA molecules from the solution to their surfaces, forming a continuous dendritic structure. Instead, no regular assembly is obtained from solutions with high peptide concentrations, as their dynamics is dominated by strong repulsive peptide-peptide electrostatic interactions, and from solutions at pH 10, in which the total peptide charge is zero. Overall, results demonstrate that dendritic structures are only obtained when the molecular charge of CRENKA, which is controlled through the pH, favors kinetics over thermodynamics during the self-assembly process.

JTD Keywords: aggregation, amphiphilic peptides, breast-cancer, cells, design, oxidative stress, resistance, strategy, Molecular-dynamics


Rivas, Elisa I., Linares, Jenniffer, Zwick, Melissa, Gómez-Llonin, Andrea, Guiu, Marc, Labernadie, Anna, Badia-Ramentol, Jordi, Lladó, Anna, Bardia, Lídia, Pérez-Núñez, Iván, Martínez-Ciarpaglini, Carolina, Tarazona, Noelia, Sallent-Aragay, Anna, Garrido, Marta, Celià-Terrassa, Toni, Burgués, Octavio, Gomis, Roger R., Albanell, Joan, Calon, Alexandre, (2022). Targeted immunotherapy against distinct cancer-associated fibroblasts overcomes treatment resistance in refractory HER2+ breast tumors Nature Communications 13, 5310

About 50% of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)+ breast cancer patients do not benefit from HER2-targeted therapy and almost 20% of them relapse after treatment. Here, we conduct a detailed analysis of two independent cohorts of HER2+ breast cancer patients treated with trastuzumab to elucidate the mechanisms of resistance to anti-HER2 monoclonal antibodies. In addition, we develop a fully humanized immunocompetent model of HER2+ breast cancer recapitulating ex vivo the biological processes that associate with patients’ response to treatment. Thanks to these two approaches, we uncover a population of TGF-beta-activated cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF) specific from tumors resistant to therapy. The presence of this cellular subset related to previously described myofibroblastic (CAF-S1) and podoplanin+ CAF subtypes in breast cancer associates with low IL2 activity. Correspondingly, we find that stroma-targeted stimulation of IL2 pathway in unresponsive tumors restores trastuzumab anti-cancer efficiency. Overall, our study underscores the therapeutic potential of exploiting the tumor microenvironment to identify and overcome mechanisms of resistance to anti-cancer treatment.

JTD Keywords: activation, cells, efficacy, enrichment analysis, expression, infiltrating lymphocytes, survival, therapy, trastuzumab, Her2-positive breast-cancer


Pepe, G, Sfogliarini, C, Rizzello, L, Battaglia, G, Pinna, C, Rovati, G, Ciana, P, Brunialti, E, Mornata, F, Maggi, A, Locati, M, Vegeto, E, (2021). ER alpha-independent NRF2-mediated immunoregulatory activity of tamoxifen Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy 144, 112274

Sex differences in immune-mediated diseases are linked to the activity of estrogens on innate immunity cells, including macrophages. Tamoxifen (TAM) is a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) used in estrogen receptor-alpha (ER alpha)-dependent breast cancers and off-target indications such as infections, although the immune activity of TAM and its active metabolite, 4-OH tamoxifen (4HT), is poorly characterized. Here, we aimed at investigating the endocrine and immune activity of these SERMs in macrophages. Using primary cultures of female mouse macrophages, we analyzed the expression of immune mediators and activation of effector functions in competition experiments with SERMs and 17 beta-estradiol (E2) or the bacterial endotoxin LPS. We observed that 4HT and TAM induce estrogen antagonist effects when used at nanomolar concentrations, while pharmacological concentrations that are reached by TAM in clinical settings regulate the expression of VEGF alpha and other immune activation genes by ER alpha- and G protein-coupled receptor 1 (GPER1)-independent mechanisms that involve NRF2 through PI3K/Akt-dependent mechanisms. Importantly, we observed that SERMs potentiate cell phagocytosis and modify the effects of LPS on the expression of inflammatory cytokines, such as TNF alpha and IL1 beta, with an overall increase in cell inflammatory phenotype, further sustained by potentiation of IL1 beta secretion through caspase-1 activation.

JTD Keywords: drug repurposing, inflammation, macrophage, nrf2, Apoptosis, Breast-cancer, Drug repurposing, Expression, Inflammation, Macrophage, Nrf2, Resistance, Sex-differences, Tamoxifen, Tumor-associated macrophages