IUBMB life

Human chorionic gonadotropin decreases human breast cancer cell proliferation and promotes differentiation.

PMID 24753159


Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a glycoprotein produced by placental trophoblasts. Previous studies indicated that hCG could be responsible for the pregnancy-induced protection against breast cancer in women. It is reported that hCG decreases proliferation and invasion of breast cancer MCF-7 cells. Our research also demonstrates that hCG can reduce the proliferation of MCF-7 cells by downregulating the expression of proliferation markers, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), and proliferation-related Ki-67 antigen (Ki-67). Interestingly, we find here that hCG elevates the state of cellular differentiation, as characterized by the upregulation of differentiation markers, β-casein, cytokeratin-18 (CK-18), and E-cadherin. Inhibition of hCG secretion or luteinizing hormone/hCG receptors (LH/hCGRs) synthesis can weaken the effect of hCG on the induction of cell differentiation. Furthermore, hCG can suppress the expression of estrogen receptor alpha. hCG activated receptor-mediated cyclic adenosine monophosphate/protein kinase A signaling pathway. These findings indicated that a protective effect of hCG against breast cancer may be associated with its growth inhibitory and differentiation induction function in breast cancer cells.